February 13, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Thomas Erlin Kaiser

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. E. KAISER (Ontario) moved:

That, in the opinion of this house, the government of the Dominion of Canada should immediately initiate such measures and take such other steps as may be necessary to bring about the utilization and transport of our vast deposits of lignite and bituminous coal, by their conversion into crude oil and other valuable commodities of every day life.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the subject of this resolution is attracting a great deal of attention not only of the people of Canada who happen to have been studying it, but also those of other countries. It seems to me fitting on my part to say that I have been interested in this subject more or less for a number of years, having some twenty years ago associated myself with the undertaking of producing
gas for the city of Oshawa. That association induced me to make a study of the chemistry of coal. During recent years, especially the last twelve months, certain matters brought to the attention of the people of Canada have aroused a tremendous interest in the subject. In order that we may visualize our interests in it as Canadian people I would draw the attention of the house to certain facts which confront me. In the first place the Dominion of Canada has a deposit of 1,250 billion tons of coal. This is a tremendous figure. In 1890 a commission in England undertook to investigate the quantity of coal there was in England and it found that there was a deposit of 100 billion tons of coal in that country, so that for every ton of coal that England ever possessed the Dominion of Canada can lay down twelve and one-half tons. From sixteen to twenty per cent of the coal of the world is contained within Canada. That is a tremendous thought.
The next thought is that we import 480 [DOT] million gallons of oil and 58 million gallons of gasoline per annum. What have we in the way of production in this Dominion? For every 100 barrels of oil used an this country only one is produced here. The next thought that impels me to say something on this subject is that, in spite of all that we may say there is coming over Canada and the United States a great change in the method of heating our houses in the cities and in regard to the general consumption of coal. The use of fuel oil is a matter that commands our attention. I find, for instance, that about seven per cent of the heating in Toronto is by oil and oil furnaces. Mr. Taylor, the head of the coal industry of the United States, has placed himself on record in this regard, that for heating purposes in that country oil has taken the place of coal to such an extent that in one year, 1925, it has displaced 200 million tons of coal. We are therefore confronted with the increasing use of fuel oil, its convenience and its fascinating features, and with the fact that we have very little of it in Canada.
Let us look at this matter from another point of view. We complain of so much coal being imported from the United States. It is not the coal that we object to: it is the adverse balance of trade of $216,000,000; that we wish to restore by using our own coal, and that from a sentimental point of view we would prefer to use our own. But we are not making any headway towards a balance of trade if we simply change from the consumption of coal ito the consumption of oil, if the oil comes from the United States of America. In 1927 a metallurgical congress was held in this Dominion, and among
Lignite Coal-Mr. Kaiser

the men who came here was Sir Robert Horn who told us that the British Empire uses 11 million tons of oil a year. He also said that the whole empire produced only 3 million tons of oil and that we depended upon other countries for the remaining S million tons of oill per annum. He along with Sir Richard Redmayne pointed out that within the Dominion of Canada we had deposits, vast, wonderful, beyond all measure, from which possibly the oil used in the British Empire might be found in the future.
Let me come now to another point. I agree with a great deal of what has been said with regard to research, but I would point out that ais regards the matter which I am trying to discuss the world has passed the period of research. We are not discussing to-night something that is yet to be discovered; we are going to confine our attention for a few moments to something that is already found. The matter is one not of research but of the application of knowledge which has been evolved by other people in other parts of the world. In 1926 at Pittsburgh the congress of bituminous coal people gathered and a German named Frederick Bergius appeared upon the scene, who read a paper entitled "The liquefaction and hydrogenation of coal." This paper attracted the attention of the scientific world and to-day his statements and findings are matters of world interest. In 1921 he came to Canada and obtained a patent for a process which he had evolved. In 1923 he again came to Canada and took out another patent. In 1926 he came to Canada once more and took out a third patent. This patent was with regard to processes which he had evolved and the details of which he announced in Pittsburgh in November, 1926. I am not prepared to say that the findings of Bergius constitute the last word in the evolution of this great question, but I am prepared to say that what Frederick Bergius discovered and what he evolved is a matter of first-rate, vast importance to this and every other country. If I am mistaken in saying that-and I m-ight be-my mistake is shared by some very practical and important people. Is it not marvellous to think that the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, managed by probably the best and most astute business men in the United States, should have gone to Germany and purchased from Bergius the right to manufacture oil from coal in the whole of the United States? It is a marvellous thing that Germany should have backed this process with $500,000 the first year, increasing the amount year by year; it is a marvellous thing if the best business minds of England have been deceived in this matter, because in

writing to Bergius and asking certain details in regard to this process, he referred me to a syndicate in England known as the British Bergius Syndicate, which bought the patent right to produce oil from coal in the whole British Empire. I was curious to learn who was at the back of this particular move in England. A friend of mine in London sent me the prospectus of the company which has taken over these patents and now holds them for the Dominion of Canada, and I find that the company is capitalized at $275,000,000, so there is something substantial in it. At the head of the company is Right Hon. Sir Alfred Mond, who is well known in Canada and who is regarded as a first class business man all over the world. Associated with him are such men as Sir Harry McGowan, Right Hon. Lord Ashfield, Sir John Brunner, a name well known in business circles, the Marquis of Reading, P.C., G.C.B., G.C.V.O., G.M.S.I., G.M.I.E., and others; so it will be seen that leading business men of the British Empire are behind this process.
I would like to say just a word or two in regard to the process itself. For a great number of years chemists have been endeavouring to produce oil out of coal by what is commonly called the breaking-down process, but this man Bergius got it in his mind that this end could be attained by a synthetic method. A ton of coal was found to consist of sixteen parts of carbon to one part of hydrogen, while oil consists of eight parts of carbon to one part of hydrogen. Other scientists undertook to reduce the carbon content, but Bergius injected hydrogen and raised the hydrogen content to produce the oil in this way, and he succeeded to the extent of having his process backed by millions of dollars in Germany. He now has a plant in that country which is expected to turn out this year 100,000,000 gallons of crude oil, which will then be put through the distillation process. It has been found that a quality of coal suitable to this process will produce 30 per cent of gasoline, 30 per cent of fuel oil, 30 per cent of lubricating oil, and will leave a residue of only 10 per cent. The statement points out that this process will apply to any kind of coal except anthracite, but it has a particular application to lignite, and he has found that in putting even lignite coal through his process there are many varieties of that Class of coal which require minor changes in the process.
I suppose technical details would be wearisome at this time of night, but I do say that it strikes me as wrong that anyone outside of Canada should secure a patent which will tie up some of the natural resources of this coun-

Patent Act
try and prevent the application thereto of our own genius and talent. I claim that in this case the government should have an option on this particular process, because if it turns out in the way anticipated it will have a tremendous application in this country. We should look upon our natural resources as assets to be developed-I believe the people of Canada are getting a little tired of hearing politicians speak of our great resources, and so on, ad libitum. We should undertake to do something with those resources.

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