"If the price of oil stays above $50 or $60, I think that within 10 years, using coal as a chemical feedstock will be a very big industry in China," says Zhang Yuzhuo, a Shenhua Group vice president and chairman of China Shenhua Coal Liquefaction. Of course there is the minor problem of Carbon Dioxide. Said one consultant: "One of the big disadvantages of coal is that you make CO2," he says. "And unless you are located in an area where you can dispose of that at some reasonable cost, it's a potential economic hit on the project. Even if it isn't a hit today, it could be at some point in the future if carbon taxes are enacted."
This is so retro- coal tar, a byproduct of coal gasification, was the first major feedstock for chemicals. Next thing you know we will by typing by the light of whale-oil lamps. ::C&EN; via ::New Scientist