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Underground Coal Gasification:


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Title: Underground Coal Gasification:

Underground Coal Gasification
  • A game-changer for climate protection?

3rd China Energy and Environment Summit
(CEES) Beijing, PRC August 20-21, 2010 Mike
Fowler Climate Technology Innovation
Coordinator Clean Air Task Force
Clean Air Task Force is a non-profit organization
dedicated to reducing atmospheric pollution
through research, advocacy, and private sector
MAIN OFFICE 18 Tremont Street Suite 530 Boston, MA 02108 (617) 624-0234 info_at_catf.us www.catf.us www.coaltransition.us www.aceiii.org OTHER LOCATIONS Beijing, China Brunswick, ME Carbondale, IL Columbus, OH Washington, DC
  • About CATF
  • The need for carbon capture and storage (CCS)
  • The great barrier for CCS cost
  • The potential benefits of underground coal
    gasification (UCG)
  • The cost of coal power with UCG with CCS could be
    less then cost of conventional coal without CCS
  • Other benefits include reduced mining, reduced
    drinking water consumption, reduced emissions of
    sulfur dioxide, etc.
  • Importance of environmental management for UCG
  • Protection of groundwater from contamination

About CCS at the Clean Air Task Force (CATF)
  • CATF is an energy and environment NGO with
    headquarters in the United States. Our work
  • Greenhouse gases and climate change
  • SO2, NOx, particulate matter, and toxic air
  • Related environmental issues
  • We are a small specialty organization founded in
  • 20 technical staff, policy and business experts,
    and attorneys
  • CCS is a core focus for CATF. Our CCS work
  • Expert workshops
  • Innovation policy design
  • Facilitation of large pioneer CCS projects
  • Costs of CCS will limit speed and extent of
  • Underground coal gasification could change the
  • Potentially significant cost reductions for coal
    power with CCS
  • Potential for low-cost substitute natural gas

Background 1 Huge quantities of low-carbon
electricity will be needed
With electric vehicles?
Will the world converge here?
Source CATF (2009) from DOE/EIA (2007)
Slide 5
Background 1 Huge quantities of low-carbon
electricity will be needed
World electricity demand , with electric vehicles?
Source CATF (2009) from DOE/EIA (2007)
Slide 6
Background 2 CCS will be essential to meet this
Studies by MIT, Stanford, EPRI, PNNL, NCAR, and
University of Maryland suggest substantial roles
for fossil fules with CCS, renewables, and
nuclear power
MIT Model
Stanford/EPRI Model
PNNL Model
Source United States Climate Change Science
Program, 2007
Background 3 Costs of adding CCS to new power
projects are significant
  • Relative cost of electricity (LCOE) estimate for
    fossil power generation (Nth plant US basis)
    CCS could add 80

Source DOE/NETL (2007)
UCG could change the game for fossil power with
  • UCG can produces inexpensive raw synthesis gas
  • 1 - 3/MMBtu (see GasTech, 2007 ENN, 2009)
  • UCG can enables high efficiency power generation
    when integrated with combined cycle gas turbine
  • 45.4 HHV w/o CCS (AMMA, 2002)
  • Technology is commercially available to clean up
    syngas and removal CO2 at manageable cost
  • Result Potentially game-changing CCS costs

? Oxidant
? Syngas
Potable Aquifer
Rock (e.g., shale)
Rock (e.g., shale)
Image CATF (2009)
UCG with CCS could compete with conventional coal
without CCS
  • Cost of UCG integrated with 80 CO2 removal and
    syngas combustion in CCGT could be LESS THEN
    conventional coal without CCS
  • Cost of UCG to produce substitute natural gas
    with CCS also could be very attractive,
    especially in China

Estimate by the NorthBridge Group and CATF based
on proprietary data for a proposed UCG project in
North America
UCG could also significantly increase domestic
energy supplies
  • In the US, UCG could increase coal supply by
    300-400. The same could be true of China
    (though this requires study)

Source DOE/NETL Presentation, September, 2008
Commercial activity is accelerating
Region/Trial Length (days) Gasified (tonnes) Depth Period
FSR/Various 1000s 15 million Shallow 1930s
China/abandoned mines n/d n/d n/d 1950s
US/Hanna 343 14,800 Shallow 1970s
US/Hoe Creek 117 5,920 Shallow 1970s
US/Princetown 12 320 Intermediate 1970s
US/Rawlins 106 10,000 Shallow 1970s
US/ Tenn. Colony 197 4,500 Shallow 1970s
US/Centralia Tono 29 1,800 Shallow 1980s
US/RM1 150 14,150 Shallow 1980s
EU/Thulin 67 11 Deep 1980s
EU/El Tremedal 12 240 Deep 1990s
US/Carbon County (n/d) 800 Deep 1990s
NZ/Huntley 13 80 Shallow 1990s
AUS/Chinchilla (R1) 900 32,000 Shallow 1990s
AUS/Chinchilla (R3/R4) Active 2,000 Shallow 2008
SA/Eskom Active (n/d) Deep 2007
CHN/ENN Group Active 25,000 Intermediate 2007
AUS/Carbon Energy Active (n/d) Intermediate 2008
CAN/Swan Hills Active (n/d) Deep 2009
AUS/Cougar Energy Active (n/d) Intermediate 3/2010
Many more projects are planned around the world
  • US (Alaska) CIRI/Laurus
  • Canada (Alberta) Laurus
  • South Africa - Secunda (Sasol)
  • Vietnam - Red River Delta (Linc)
  • Pakistan - Thar Coal Field (2x)
  • Chile - Mulpun (Carbon Energy)
  • UK 11 separate UCG licenses issued recently
  • India - Multiple sites
  • US PRB, US Midwest, New Zealand,

Carbon Energy UCG site near Dalby, Queensland,
Australia, November, 2008. The reactor was active
200m below this spot. Photo by Mike Fowler.
Possible advantage of UCG Reduced water
Even with partial CCS, UCG and a CCGT could use
less than half the raw water of a conventional
coal power plant without CCS, and less than an
IGCC without CCS.
Item UCG-CCGT, no CCS UCG-CCGT, Partial CCS IGCC, no CCS NGCC, no CCS PC-sub, no CCS SCPC, no CCS
Raw Water Usage (gpm/MWe) 2.9 4.9 6 4.5 11.3 10
Slide 14
Possible advantage of UCG Reduced mercury
  • Carbon beds have demonstrated 99.9 mercury
    removal on coal syngas
  • Carbon beds are much less expensive than
    activated carbon injection on conventional coal
    plants (1/10th on cost of electricity basis)
  • Carbon beds produce less waste than activated
    carbon injection on conventional coal
  • UCG could take advantage of this technology to
    reduce mercury

Carbon beds for mercury removal at Eastman coal
gasification facility in TN
Slide 15
Possible advantage of UCG Reduce air pollution
Technology exists for UCG to approach natural gas
Source CATF from various sources
Possible advantage of UCG Use less surface land
Source Carbon Energy (2009)
But UCG is a complex coupled chemical and
geophysical process

Example Gas Composition ( vol, Queensland Site, Air-Blown) Example Gas Composition ( vol, Queensland Site, Air-Blown) Example Gas Composition ( vol, Queensland Site, Air-Blown) Example Gas Composition ( vol, Queensland Site, Air-Blown) Example Gas Composition ( vol, Queensland Site, Air-Blown) Example Gas Composition ( vol, Queensland Site, Air-Blown) Example Gas Composition ( vol, Queensland Site, Air-Blown)
H2 CO CH4 CO2 N2 H2O HHV MJ/m3
18.0 6.0 7.0 16.0 35.6 16.5 6.6
Gas Losses
Coal Bed
Tars oils
1000 1650 F
400 1000 F
gt1650 F
? Advances 2 ft/day
Source Adapted
from DOE/NETL Presentation, September, 2008, and
AMMA, 2008
And in China, as elsewhere, protection of
groundwater is vital
  • Site selection is key
  • Coal at intermediate or greater depth
  • Preferably below potentially viable water
  • Isolated from surrounding strata (good roof and
    floor, horizontal isolation)
  • See DOE/LLNL guidelines (in preparation)
  • so is site operation
  • Safer linking methods (e.g., in-seam drilling)
  • Eliminate/minimize gas loss
  • Maintain gasification pressure below local
    hydrostatic pressure
  • Real-time monitoring of pressure, pH, trace
    compounds in surrounding strata
  • Real-time monitoring/verification of mass balance
  • Geophysical/geochemical monitoring, process
    simulation, and control
  • and proper module closure is important
  • Limit postburn pyrolysis and steam/pressure
  • Clean the cavern

An environmental success in early US program
Rocky Mountain 1
  • RM1 1987-1988 near Hanna, WY
  • Project included GRI, DOE, Amoco Production, WRI,
    and EPRI
  • Environmental protection focus
  • Thinner, deeper coal seam (Hanna No.1, 30 ft
    thick, gt350 ft deep)
  • Stable overburden and underburden
  • Detailed pre-test geologic and hydrologic
  • Hydrologic sampling and monitoring during and
    after the burn
  • Operational control
  • Post-burn cavity venting and flushing
  • Result No water resource damage

Sources Boysen et al (1998), Davis (2008)
Thank you!
Mike Fowler Climate Technology Innovation Coordinator Clean Air Task Force 18 Tremont Street, Suite 530 Boston, MA 02108 (617) 624-0234 ext. 12 (voice) (617) 624-0230 (fax) mfowler_at_catf.us www.catf.us
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