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Gasification, or the conversion of a solid (or liquid) fuel into a synthesis gas (made of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and other gases), will be a future pathway for use coal. Currently, gasification of coal is used in making plastics, liquid transportation fuels, as well as electricity and heat. However, gasification is currently only considered of economic value at very large scales, where capital costs are very high.
Ohio University is working on novel gasification of coal and biomass using carbon dioxide and superheated steam that could lead to a less expensive way to produce syngas for applications in solid oxide fuel cells, Fischer Tropsch synthesis to make transportation fuels, and in the production of chemicals, such as fertilizer. This technology could reduce carbon emissions by using the coal more efficiently and recycling some of the carbon dioxide for gasification.