Skip to Content

Liquid Coal

Producing Liquid Fuel from Non-Petroleum Sources


Author(s)

Joshua D. Hartman
Department of Chemistry
University of California, Riverside
Kelly Theel
Department of Chemistry
University of California, Riverside
Jack F. Eichler
Department of Chemistry
University of California, Riverside
jack.eichler@ucr.edu

Abstract

In this problem-based case study, students systematically explore the scientific issues surrounding the application and development of coal-to-liquid fuel technology. An introductory reading from the New York Times highlights the significant impact that federal policy decisions may have on both climate change and national security. Students are then given two primary literature articles that address both scientific and technical considerations surrounding fuel conversion and a set of guiding questions about the articles. Students are asked to identify the major scientific questions related to this topic and then explore how they can find answers to these questions in a chemistry context. The case study is designed to illustrate the direct application of chemical reactions and reaction stoichiometry to a major problem facing society. The case is designed for a first semester/first quarter general chemistry course, and is generally presented after the units on chemical reactions and stoichiometry have been covered.


Objectives

  • Highlight the relevance of chemistry to current world issues.
  • Apply basic chemical knowledge to complex, multi-faceted problems.
  • Develop the ability to critically analyze primary literature and draw conclusions based on the data and evidence contained therein.
  • Develop the ability to communicate scientific and technical concepts in both written and verbal form.
  • Improve the development of fundamental chemistry skills such as balancing chemical reactions, stoichiometric calculations, and dimensional analysis.

Keywords

Chemical reactions; reaction chemistry; stoichiometry; fossil fuels; coal, liquid fuel; climate change

Topical Areas

Policy issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Journal Article, Problem-Based Learning

Language

English

Subject Headings

Chemistry (General)  |  


Date Posted

12/23/2013

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering.

Comments


Nicholas Stephanus
nicholas.stephanus@ideapublicschools.org
Science
IDEA Donna College Prep
Donna, TX
02/20/2015
My students (10th graders) were invested in the study and showed great initiative in tackling some reading/content that is fairly complex (especially for 10th grade basic chemistry students). I will say that I had to paraphrase a lot of the content and lay the groundwork for the case study with some supplemental instruction (mostly vocab).However, once the students had a clear-enough picture of how energy is being produced in this country and how a combustion reaction looks (and is balanced), then the project took off. Thanks!

-----------------------------