HC Deb 14 May 1928 vol 217 cc658-60
35. Mr. HARDIE

asked the Secretary for Mines what is the cost of treating one cwt. or one ton of coal by the Bergius system of extracting oil from coal?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Commodore Douglas King)

The Bergius process is still in the experimental stage and no plant of a commercial size is in existence in this country, so that it is impossible to give even a rough estimate of the cost of the process. Much more work is required on the details before the cost of working, or the conditions giving the lowest cost of working, can be stated.


Are we to understand that the technical men running this test have not measured the hydrogen or the coal that is being treated, and have not, in fact, made any measurements? Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that that is the case?

Commodore KING

I do not suggest anything but what is contained in my answer.


If the hon. Member had been answering the question he could not say that, and he is avoiding the question.


Is it not the case that from the point of view of all concerned exhaustive tests are being made?


Is it not possible for the Secretary for Mines to tell us what is the cost of the experimental operations which are being carried out?

Commodore KING

The hon. Member will realise that the carrying out of these operations involves laboratory experiments, and the costs vary with each experiment.

36. Mr. HARDIE

asked the Secretary for Mines what amount of pressure is used upon the hydrogen gas in the Bergius system of extracting oil from coal?

Commodore KING

The pressures of hydrogen used in the experiments at the Fuel Research Station and those in Germany of which the Government has information, have varied from 2,500 to 3,700 lbs. per square inch. The optimum pressure appears to depend on the individual coal being treated, the temperatures used, and, of course, on commercial and engineering considerations.

37. Mr. HARDIE

asked the Secretary for Mines what amount of coal is used in treating one ton of coal in the Bergius system of extracting oil from coal?

Commodore KING

The coal consumed in hydrogenating one ton of coal may be divided into three parts, that used for power, that for heating, and that for manufacturing hydrogen. As power, heat and hydrogen can all be obtained by electricity produced in hydro-electric plants, it is possible that in some circumstances the answer might be "none" If, however, coal is used for all these purposes, then the answer depends on how the process is organised. Dr. Bergius, in a paper read at the International Conference on Bituminous Coal held at Pittsburg in 1926, showed how the hydrogen might be obtained from the gas evolved in the process, and if this were done he estimated that eight cwt. of coal would be required for treating one ton of coal, in an efficient large scale plant. I have no evidence to show that this is unduly optimistic, though the amount of coal used in the experimental plant is naturally much greater.


Are we now to understand that the only information that is to be had is from Professor Bergius, and that all our technical men in this country have no information to give, despite the fact that they have been experimenting in our laboratories?


May I ask whether it will not be possible in future to deal with such answers as these by circulating them in the OFFICIAL REPORT?


That might meet the ignorance of hon. Members generally.

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