HC Deb 19 January 1937 vol 319 cc3-5
3. Mr. G. Hardie

asked the Secretary for Mines why alterations had to be made of the Bergius system of hydrogenation at Billingham, and if, after such alterations, the Bergius interests still held the patent rights over the parts altered or improved?

Captain Crookshank

I am advised that the Bergius system, apart from the basic principle of converting coal to oils by the addition of hydrogen, was insufficiently developed by its originators for practical commercial operation, for which purposes new apparatus and methods had to be devised. The Bergius patents involved have practically all either lapsed or been abandoned. The British Bergius Syndicate, which originally held limited options over the British rights, was wound up 12 months before the Billingham plant was initiated. Such rights as it held had been taken over by I.C.I. and were ultimately pooled with all that company's other rights resulting from their independent work, and with the rights in hydrogenation of their Continental and American associates who incidentally had become the controlling holders of the original Bergius rights.

Mr. Hardie

Since the Government have given so much to Imperial Chemical Industries may I ask whether they hold any part of the rights in this new construction hydrogenation plant?

Captain Crookshank

I must ask the hon. Member to put that question on the Order Paper.

4 and 5. Mr. Hardie

asked the Secretary for Mines (1) what number of tons of coal have been hydrogenated at Billingham; also the quantity of coal required to produce the hydrogen necessary for the treatment of one ton of coal; and the quantity of crude oil produced from the one ton treated;

(2) the number of gallons of crude oil produced by hydrogenation at Billingham, based, not on the one ton treated, but upon the total amount of coal used in the treatment of one ton of coal?

Captain Crookshank

While I am not in a position to give information in the full detail for which the hon. Member asks, I am able, by the courtesy of Imperial Chemical Industries, Limited, to furnish certain particulars concerning the working of the hydrogenation plant at Billingham in respect of 1936, the first complete calendar year of working, which I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Hardie

May I ask whether it is not the case that the plant at Billingham has not yet reduced any coal by hydrogenation to an oil state?

Captain Crookshank

That seems to be a very technical question of which I should like to have notice. The hon. Member had better study the information which I have promised to give him.

Mr. Hardie

I think that I can anticipate the information I am going to get.

The particulars are as follow:

Petrol Production. Tons.
Total Production of Refined Motor Spirit* 112,000
(about 33,600,000 gallons.)
Coal Consumption.
Coal Directly Hydrogenated 100,000
Additional coal used for all other purposes — steam raising, power generation, hydrogen production, ancillary both to direct coal hydrogenation and also to tar hydrogenation (approx.) 325,000
Total usage of all coals (approx.) 425,000
* The process can be used to produce various final products. At present the plant is used entirely to produce motor spirit. Crude oil being only an intermediate product, figures of its production would have no real significance in view of the various modifications possible at intermediate stages.

48. Mr. Louis Smith

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the approximate cost to the revenue of the Billingham hydrogenation plant since it was set up?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Chamberlain)

I am afraid that I have no further information than that contained in the answer given to the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) on 15th December last by my hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary for Mines.

Mr. Smith

Having regard to the success of this scheme at Billingham, will my right hon. Friend shortly be able to announce the erection of another similar plant in another part of the country?

Mr. Chamberlain

I do not think that arises on this question.

Mr. Hardie

Would it not be a good thing, before commencing any new plant, to know that this one is working and doing what was claimed for it?