July 16, 2007 Scientists in China are reporting an advance in clean-coal technology that could substantially reduce the cost of producing clean-burning fuels from underground deposits of coal.
In a study scheduled for the July 18 issue of ACS’s Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly publication, Lanhe Yang and colleagues focus on coal gasification, a process for making gaseous fuels, similar to natural gas, from coal.
They describe 40 years of failed efforts to tap the potential of shaftless underground coal gasification, the most economical kind of underground gasification, in which laborers are not required to work below the surface to carve out chambers in which coal is converted into gas. Building those gasification galleries is expensive and has made underground coal gasification unattractive economically
In the study, researchers report development and successful field-tests in a coal mine in Jiangsu Province of a new method that overcomes a major obstacle to shaftless underground gasification. It involves use of an improved method for “pushing through,” for igniting coal seams quickly and converting coal into gas.
The study shows that the new method makes it feasible to conduct shaftless coal gasification in a more economical fashion, they report.
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