Getting Power From Coal Without Digging It Up
Posted by keelynet on December 27, 2009
Excellent technology that could save a lot of money and pollution.
“Converting coal in the ground directly into clean-burning gases could have huge environmental benefits–not the least of which would be the avoidance of destructive mining operations. The problem is, technology for underground coal gasification is still in its early stages. Previous demonstrations of the technology have turned coal seams as deep as 1,000 meters below the surface into clean-burning gas.
In contrast, Swan Hills Synfuels’ C$1.5 billion project proposes to reach down 1,400 meters. Working at that depth could lessen the threat of groundwater contamination from the smoldering decomposing coal. “We’ve got 800 meters of rock–a lot of it impermeable–between us and freshwater aquifers,” says Swan Hills president Doug Shaigec.
Pilot testing by Swan Hills confirms the viability of these promises, according to Shaigec. He says the pilot produced excellent gas using a pair of adjacent wells spaced 50 to 60 meters apart, installed in the coal seam with the same directional-drilling techniques behind the accelerating production of natural gas from shale deposits. Oxygen is driven down the feed well and the coal seam is ignited, driving the temperature to 800 to 900 ºC and the pressure to almost 2,000 PSI.
Under those pressures, the oxygen, coal, and saline water (present in the coal and also injected via the feed well) react to form a gas that is roughly one-third methane and two-thirds hydrogen, along with some carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The gas is drawn to the surface via the adjacent production well, where the carbon monoxide is converted to hydrogen and CO?, and all of the CO? is removed.” – Full Article Source
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