Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Underground Coal Gasification Moving Ahead in Alaska

Underground coal gasification (UCG) is the in-situ gasification of coal in the seam. It is achieved by injecting oxidants, gasifying the coal and bringing the product gas to surface through boreholes drilled from the surface. The gas is used for power generation, industrial heating or as chemical feedstock.UCG Engineering Ltd has recently undertaken reviews of the technilogy and provided designs of underground configurations for demnonstration and commercial applications. _UCG EngineeringLTD
Queensland-based LINC Energy has won new exploration licenses for development of underground coal gasification in Alaska.
January 27, 2011

Linc Energy is one step closer to becoming a significant part of the USA domestic energy market after winning further underground coal gasification (UCG) exploration licences in Alaska.

The Queensland-based company announced today it has been successful in its tender to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority for the grant of 181,414 acres of UCG licences.

The decision follows more than six months work in UCG geological assessment and competitive tender submissions from a unit spanning the Linc Energy Australian and United States offices.

Linc CEO Peter Bond says the outcome greatly advances the company’s strategic goal to bring commercial UCG development to Alaska.

“We have known for a long time that Alaska, the Cook Inlet Basin in particular, holds significant coal deposits,” Bond says.

“Importantly, the decision confirms that we were successful in obtaining 100 percent of the exploration areas we applied for in the competitive tender process,” he says.
Another likely site for commercial development of underground coal gasification (besides China) is Canada.
...Mr. Fallows says the only rational response for the U.S. is to use China as “a huge laboratory for deploying technology.” He cites the potentially game-changing technology known as underground coal gasification as an example of what a Sino-American technology partnership could achieve.

With this technology, jets of pure oxygen would be blasted, deep underground, into seams of coal. Under intense pressure, a controlled burn would take place. The heat would boil the saline water that occurs naturally far below groundwater. The resulting steam would set off the chemical reactions that turn coal into gas – which would be used (such as “natural” gas) to fuel “coal-fired power plants.” Yet no coal would ever be “mined.” The residual char and ash would remain put, along with the sulphur and nitrogen associated with dirty coal. Above ground, the C02 would be separated from the synthetic gas and recycled for use in the enhanced recovery of crude oil.

This is all marvellous science, but Mr. Fallows errs in thinking that China offers the only laboratory, or the best laboratory, to test it. The technology he describes in futuristic terms is already well advanced in the Swan Hills Synfuels development in Alberta – the largest coal gasification project in North America and the deepest underground coal-to-gas operation in the world. Beginning in 2015, Swan Hills will deliver synthetic gas from 1,400 metres underground – and, quite possibly, lead the entire world in clean coal technology. _GlobeandMail
Alaska, China, Alberta, and likely Australia. Four locations where underground coal seam gasification is likely to be developed, perfected, and commercially developed.
By eliminating the need for mining, UCG offers some benefits to the environment over traditional coal mining and coal gasification methods. Immediate benefits include the elimination of solid waste discharge and reduction in sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx). In traditional coal mining, large quantities of coal ash, oxides, waste rock and radioactive waste are common discharges. In the case of UCG, this waste is either avoided or contained underground. Due to the absence of coal mining, Appalachian mountaintops are not stripped bare and remain largely preserved, hence there is no need for tailing and ash dams. For comparison, the ash content of UCG syngas is estimated to be approximately 10 mg/m³ compared to smoke from burning where ash content may be up to 70 mg/m³. _Sourcewatch

More information:
UCG Association
UCG Engineering LTD



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