A Texas A&M University history professor and Syntroleum Corporation, owner of a compact Fischer-Tropsch fuels technology, are posting nearly a quarter of a million pages of coal gasification research conducted from the 1920s through 1980s on the Internet.
Professor Anthony Stranges, who holds degrees in chemistry and a doctorate in history, was part of a team of historians, chemists and engineers formed at the university in the 1970s to assemble and analyze hundreds of thousands of pages of German gasification documents captured after World War II.
The Germans used gasification as a major energy source to support their WW II operations. What they learned then was thought to have some practical applications during the acute oil shortages of the 1970s, especially since the German coal used in the process is chemically quite similar to that found in parts of the United States. Gasification interest, however, dwindled when oil supplies and prices stabilized.
With rising prices and the prospect of energy instability, gasification is back on the table. Stranges and Syntroleum sought to make the early research documents widely available as a public service for future studies.
The gasification research documents can be accessed at the Fischer-Tropsch Archive where Syntroleum will be posting more than 230,000 pages of this research over the next several months. These documents reflect commercialization of work done by the US Energy Research and Development Administration and the US Department of Energy in the 1970s and 1980s.
Syntroleum acquired the research documents from the US National Technical Information Service and over the last three months has converted them from microfiche to the proper format for Web posting. Texas A&M also has done a significant amount of gasification research that Stranges is converting for the Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) Web site.
The F-T Archive site was created a few years ago and is sponsored in cooperation with Texas A&M and Syntroleum Corporation, which owns a proprietary process for producing synthetic liquid hydrocarbons from natural gas or gas synthesized from coal and other carbon-based feedstock.
The US Air Force is running a flight test next month using Syntroleum GTL fuel in a B-52.