The Formula is a mystery film directed by John G. Avildsen released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1980. It features a preeminent cast of Marlon Brando, John Gielgud,George C. Scott and Marthe Keller. Craig T. Nelson also makes a brief appearance as a geologist. Despite recieving 1st Golden Rasberry Award, the film is noteworthy as being one of the first films to deal with the issue of peak oil and the global collapse of economies based on fossil fuels. In this, it is similar to Rollover which dealt with the possibility of a collapse of global financial markets.
The fictional Genesis formula is based on both fact and mythology of Nazi's use of coal hydrogenation. The factual Bergius Process is a method of production of liquid hydrocarbons for use as synthetic fuel by hydrogenation of high-volatile bituminous coal at high temperature and pressure. It was first developed by Friedrich Bergius in 1913, in 1931 Bergius was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his development of high pressure chemistry. Before World War II several plants where built with an annual capacity of 4 million tons of synthetic fuel. These plants were extensively used during World War II to supply Germany with fuel and lubricants.
The Bergius process was extensively used by Nazi Germany and targeted for bombing during the Oil Campaign of World War II. At present there are no plants operating the Bergius Process or its derivatives commercially. The largest demonstration plant was the 200 ton per day plant at Bottrop, Germany, operated by Ruhrkohle, which ceased operation in 1993. There are reports of the Chinese company constructing a plant with a capacity of 4 000 ton per day. It was expected to become operational in 2007, but there has been no confirmation that this was achieved.
|Ruins of coal elevator in a synthetic gasoline plant from WWII|
Additional Reading "Friedrich Bergius and the Rise of the German Synthetic Fuel Industry"