Carbon resource
to X products
World Coal To X World Coal To X World Coal To X

Coal To Chemicals

In this page, “chemicals” stands for “chemicals except liquid fuels and methane”.

One can note that the term “Coal To Chemicals” is sometimes used to embrace the production of any hydrocarbon from coal including liquid fuels and natural gas, as long as liquid fuels and natural gas are “chemicals” – in fact, any material on the earth is a “chemical”.

Coal To Chemicals represents the main application of gasification, which is the first step in most coal conversion processes.

Petrochemicals can be produced from hydrocarbons other than coal, such as biomass.


Products can be split into families: ammonia and urea on the one hand, methanol and the “chemistry of methanol” on the other hand.

Coal To Chemicals Processes

Coal is first gasified with steam and oxygen to produce a synthetic gas or “syngas”, composed of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2) and to a lesser extent carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) as well as impurities.

The [H2]/[CO] ratio in the syngas classically needs to be increased, which is achieved in a “water-gas shift” reaction, where CO and water are converted to CO2 and H2. Syngas is then cleaned to eliminate dust, tar and acid gases.

Two families of chemicals are produced from coal.

– Ammonia and urea
Hydrogen (H2) extracted from syngas reacts with nitrogen (N2) to form ammonia (NH3). Ammonia then reacts with carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce urea (CO(NH2)2).

– Chemistry of methanol
Once the [H2]/[CO] ratio is adjusted to [2]/[1], H2 and CO react on a catalyst to produce methanol (CH3OH).
Almost any petrochemical can be produced from methanol by classical processes.

Operations and projects

Most Coal To Chemicals operations and projects are in China, in addition to an ammonia-urea plant in Kansas, USA.

Production is often a mix of several types of chemicals.

Main chemicals produced from coal are urea on one side and, on the methanol side, methanol itself, olefins (ethylene, polyethylene, polypropylene), MEG (monoethylene glycol), DME (dimethyl ether) and acetic acid.

Coal To Chemicals

Coffeyville fertilizer plant, Kansas, USA

Coal To Chemicals

Baotou Coal To Olefins plant, Inner Mongolia, China

Similar pages of World CTX website deal with Coal to Liquids, Coal To SNG, Low Rank Coal Pyrolysis and Syngas for DRI.

Your comments on this page will be welcomed: please contact