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Synthetic Fuels

( Article Type: Explanation )

South Africa’s example of synthetic fuels is the petroleum products produced by Sasol at Sasolburg. The process started by converting coal into petrol and diesel using readily available low-grade coal. The technology has been developed further to convert readily available natural gas into liquid fuels using the Sasol Slurry Phase Distillate process. The synthetic fuels production was the basis and launch pad for a chemical industry that has extended extensively and diversified into a wide range of differing speciality chemicals. When originally developed, the need to inject additional energy levels was not seen as significant because it provided an alternative source of fuel. Furthermore, it made use of low-grade coal, which was available in abundance.

Current production has focused on greater efficiency and cost effectiveness to enable the company to compete aggressively on the global petro-chemical and speciality chemicals markets. The latest advances in the Sasol Slurry Phase Distillates process technology allow for the conversion of natural gas into a high quality diesel fuel with a low sulphur content, low particulate emissions, low aromatics content and high combustion efficiency. These qualities all contribute to improved environmental performance and a lower health impact.