Coal re-emerges as a primary petrochemical feedstock
Coal-to-chemicals routes are now an important and viable option for producers in China and beyond. Those that look upon them as atavistic dinosaurs do so at their peril.
Coal was, historically, a critical resource in the infancy
of the organic chemical industry. Among many other
applications, coal tar provided aromatics, and coal syngas was
used for ammonia and methanol production. The invention of
the electric-arc furnace allowed coal-based calcium carbide to
unleash a wealth of early acetylene-based production of
butadiene, vinyl acetate, vinyl chloride and acetaldehyde.
While the modern petrochemical industrys development
largely shifted away from coal as cheaper feedstocks emerged, coal is once
again re-emerging as a high-value hydrocarbon feedstock, as shown in
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