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Underground coal gasification

AUTHOR: Gordon Couch
DATE: July 2009
PAGES: 129

The report describes progress with the development of underground coal gasification (UCG), which has the potential to increase the world’s resource of useable coal. The technologies involving the drilling of injection and production wells into the coal seam are described, together with the methods for linking the wells. With advances in methods for directional drilling in-seam, new techniques for UCG have proved to be possible. The test and trial work carried out in the former USSR, in China, Europe and the USA up to 2000 is described, along with current efforts to commercialise the technology. With the power of modern computers, the modelling of various aspects of the process has become possible, and current work should facilitate the validation of some of these models. Geological and hydrogeological issues are discussed, as the single most important decision that will determine the technical and economic performance of UCG is site selection. The report covers environmental issues, including carbon management, and discusses the options for the use of the syngas formed. The recent pilot-scale tests in Australia, Canada, China and South Africa are reviewed, together with other current proposals for further trials in a wide range of countries including India, Russia, the UK and the USA.