The Bergius Process is a very simple process for converting brown coal completely into crude oil invented by Dr. Friedrich Bergius. The brown coal, also known as lignite, is ground into a fine powder and placed into a high pressure reactor where it is reacted with hydrogen gas at high temperature and pressure. Initially, problems with large scale production made industrial use impossible. After the development of catalysts, and with assistance from the Standard Oil (NJ) Company the process became commercially viable. Dr. Bergius received the Nobel Prize in 1931 for this contribution to industrial science. Check out the Nobel Prize site to learn more!
From Frank A. Howard, Buna Rubber: The Birth of an Industry. New York: D. van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1947.