Bergius coal hydrogenation

What is Bergius coal hydrogenation?

The Bergius coal hydrogenation, also known as Bergius process, is a technique used for coal liquefaction through the process of coal hydrogenation at high temperatures and high pressures, initially without the use of catalysts.

The research and development of the method was carried out by Bergius et. al. in 1912/1913. The Goldschmidt AG began constructing a semi-commercial plant in Mannheim, Germany in 1916, which had a daily capacity of 9 tons. In 1928, a commercial plant was built in Duisburg, Germany, but its operations ceased in the same year. The Bergius-Pier process, which is a commercialized version of the technique, was later introduced by BASF.

As the demand for fuels and lubricants surged at a rate faster than oil production, the economic benefits of this technique became evident. The significance of Bergius’s process grew even more pronounced following the onset of World War I.

There is a possibility of a revival of his coal formation experiments, which could be valuable for the hydrothermal carbonization of biomass as a means of CO2 sequestration.


  • Bergius, F., and Bilwiller, J. German Patent, DE 301231 (1913)
  • F. Bergius, German Patent, DE 304348 (1913)