Franz Fischer (1877-1947), a German chemist who, along with Hans Tropsch, invented in 1923 a revolutionary new process for converting solid fuels to liquid fuels. Fisher’s work, spanning several decades, was key in fulfilling the German's plan to always keep a plentiful supply of petroleum. Fischer and others invented and developed two processes that enabled them to synthesize petroleum from their country's abundant coal supplies, and to establish the world's first technologically successful synthetic liquid fuel industry. By the end of World War II, nine Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) plants were in operation in Germany, supplying significant amounts of fuel for the German war effort. Refinements to the Fischer-Tropsch process have improved its efficiency, although its commercial success hinges on a plentiful supply of cheap coal and the price of the synthetic fuel relative to conventional oil. Due to Fischer’s efforts, South Africa has a successful coal-to-liquids synfuel industry.