Underground Coal Gasification: Converting Unmineable Coal To Energy


Courtesy of Global Syngas Technologies Council

Currently, about 1.5 billion people –almost a quarter of the world’s population— are without electric power. The International Energy Agency estimates that world energy demand (for all forms of energy, including transportation fuels) will increase by 36 percent by 2035 and fossil fuels, such as coal, will continue to play a critical role in meeting this demand.

What is Gasification?

Gasification is a unique process that transforms any carbon-based material, such as coal, other fossil fuels, biomass, or secondary recycled materials, into energy without burning it. Instead, gasification converts materials into a gas by creating a chemical reaction. This reaction combines those carbonbased materials (known as feedstocks) with small amounts of air or oxygen, breaking them down into a gas composed of relatively simple building block molecules—called synthesis gas or “syngas”. The syngas consists primarily of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and, depending upon the particular gasification technology and feedstock used, may also contain smaller quantities of methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and water vapor. Any pollutants and impurities contained in the raw syngas can typically be readily and substantially removed leaving a clean “synthesis” gas (syngas) that can be converted into electricity and valuable products. In traditional gasification, the feedstocks and air or oxygen are injected into a gasifier where a combination of heat and pressure causes the gasification reaction. The resulting syngas is then cleaned to remove any impurities and the clean syngas can then be converted into electricity and/or other valuable products.

Customer comments

  1. By Chris Harmer on

    "The clean syngas cann be converted into energy". True. What this doesn't mention is the carbon this releases into the atmosphere. I would have thought an organisation like Environmental Expert would have got the message that we can only burn a fraction of the carbon in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming. This is a just another example of a technology we should avoid.