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A Student's Guide to Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Liquids Made From Coal
- gasoline and diesel fuels that don't come from petroleum

Not All Gasoline comes from Petroleum

Like oil and natural gas, coal is a non-renewable, fossil fuel formed in the earth from what was once living plants. Being a solid, coal is not easy to use for most transportation fuel needs.

However, there are ways to make gasoline, diesel fuel, methanol, and other chemicals from coal. These processes have been used for many years in certain other countries (such as South Africa), to produce gasoline and diesel fuel from coal.

The methods to produce gasoline and diesel from coal were used by the Germans in World War II. Their country is rich in coal deposits, but they had no oil and they could not get oil from the Middle East because they were cut off during the war. So, synthetic fuels (oil, gasoline and diesel) were made from coal. These processes can be used today, but the process is too expensive. It is cheaper to use inexpensive crude oil pumped from below the ground.

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Page updated: April 22, 2002
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