Energy self-sufficiency for the U. S. requires substantially increased use of coal. Direct combustion of coal without adequate environmental controls, as would occur if coal were used as a fuel for homes and offices throughout the country, would result in severe air pollution problems„ Synthetic fuels from coal such as methane, low BTU gas, or hydrogen, when utilized by the homes and businesses as gas or as electricity from gas, will contribute a much smaller amount of air pollution. However, to make these synthetic fuels available, it is necessary to mine more coal than would have to be mined for direct combustion, as the conversion processes all have energy losses. It is also necessary to make more extraction equipment, more fuels processing equipment and more distribution equipment which places a heavier burden on mineral resources, with associated added requirements for energy to make the equipment.

This paper explores the effects on energy resources, and the environment by carefully- taking account of extra coal needed, extra equipment required, and the associated environmental costs due to all forms of pollution resulting from the mining operation, conversion of coal to synthetic fuels, and the combustion of the synthetic fuels. Resource depletion and environmental impact are compared for the present system and a synthetic gas system which provides all of our electric power.

Meeting Name

2nd Annual UMR-MEC Conference on Energy (1975: Oct. 7-9, Rolla, MO)

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings


Energy Environment

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 1976 University of Missouri--Rolla, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

09 Oct 1975