Alternative Fuels and Feedstocks

Our research in the field of alternative fuels spans coal cleaning and gasification to methanol and dimethylether(DME) synthesis from syngas, followed by its subsequent conversion to value-added chemicals, as well as liquid transportation fuels. The process technology involving methanol, DME, and synthetic gasoline/diesel is also adaptable to biomass syngas. The C1-chemistry expertise has been applied to efficient hydrogen generation technology and bioethanol conversion technology, in addition to the processing and utilization of biomass and crop oils.

Coal Cleaning research encompasses desulfurization of coal, mercury removal, carbon dioxide gasification, and production/utilization of coal byproducts.

Lee's group has been involved in a number of pre-combustion coal cleaning process development projects sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Ohio Coal Development Office (OCDO), Department of Energy (U.S. DOE), Babcock and Wilcox (B&W), and Midwest Ore Processing Company (MOPC). These processes include MOPC's perchloroethylene (PCE) coal refining process, Organodesulfurization of coal by synergistic supercritical fluid mixtures, B&W's Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) Seed recovery and regeneration process, and Heavy media coal cleaning process. Even though none of these processes are currently in industrial operation, the MOPC's PCE coal refining process had been demonstrated using a 100 tons/day pilot-scale plant located in Plainville, IN. Further, the novel idea of using synergistic supercritical fluid mixture has inspired development of many invaluable chemical process technologies including the Goodyear's spent rubber devulcanization process.

Our contributions in the area of methanol synthesis from CO-rich as well as H2-rich syngas have been quite comprehensive. Funding for this research began from the early 1980s by EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) for methanol synthesis and continued for more than a decade. Recent funding for novel hydrogen generation process development has been provided by the U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Transportation, National University Transportation Center, AirForce Research Lab (AFRL), Radian, Inc., and DRS Technical Services, Inc.

Through the past 30 years, salient features of our process research include:

Methanol synthesis
Methanol synthesis catalyst regeneration
Methanol synthesis utilizing nonconventional feedstocks such as CO2-rich syngas
Single-step dimethyl ether synthesis
Dimethyl ether to gasoline
Dimethyl ether to lower olefins
Dimethyl ether to higher ethers and alcohols
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
Hydrogen generation from diesel reforming
Hydrogen generation from JP-8 reforming
Hydrogen generation from bioethanol reforming
Hydrogen generation from lignocellulosic feedstocks
Hydrogen generation from crude glycerin
High-temperature hydrogen generation technology
Biogas to dimethyl ether conversion
Biomass gasification
Biomass-to-liquid conversion
Tar Conversion
Processing/conversion of crop oils for jet fuels and other transportation fuels
Transportation fuels from waste materials
Oil shale pyrolysis and processing of tar sands
Waterless fracking technology for shale gas production
Treatment and recycling of fracking flowback water
Enhanced oil & gas recovery
Shale oil upgrading
Shale gas conversion

Dr. Lee has authored the following books which comprehensively cover the technical aspects of alternative fuels and feedstocks.

S. Lee, Author, "Methanol Synthesis Technology", CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, ISBN-0-8493-4610-X, 1990.

S. Lee, Author, "Oil Shale Technology", CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, ISBN-0-8493-4615-0, 1991.

S. Lee, Author, "Methane and Its Derivatives", Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, NY, ISBN-0-8247-9754-X, 1997.

S. Lee, Author, "Alternative Fuels", Taylor & Francis, Washington, D.C., ISBN-1-56032-361-2, 1997.

S. Lee, J. G. Speight, and S. K. Loyalka, "Handbook of Alternative Fuel technologies", CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, ISBN 0-8247-4069-6, 2007.

S. Lee and Y.T. Shah, "Biofuels and Bioenergy: Processes and Technologies," CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2012.

Authoritative reviews on a variety of issues regarding processing of conventional and alternative fuels by worldwide scholars are also presented in the Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing (2006) by Taylor & Francis Inc. Dr. Lee is the Editor of this encyclopedia. Currently, 5 large volumes with over 350 chapters are available both in print and on-line. More up-to-date topical entries of scientific and technological significance are constantly added as quarterly on-line updates.

A 3-credit hour comprehensive course in "Alternative Fuels and Renewable Energy" (CHE 4530) is being offered regularly at Ohio University.