How Does It Work?


lean Energy Technology

Gasification is a flexible, reliable and clean energy technology which can turn a variety of low-value feedstocks into high-value products, help reduce dependence on imported oil and natural gas, and provide a clean alternative source of electricity, fertilizers, fuels, and chemicals.


Gasification was originally developed in the 1800s to produce town gas for lighting and cooking. The basic coal gasification process has been utilized for the production of synthetic chemicals and fuels since the 1920s.


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Underground Coal Gasification

In-situ Production

 Under ground coal gasifi c ation (UCG) is an industrial process which converts coal into syngas, and this process takes place in-situ, i.e. in un-mined coal seams. The basic UCG process consists of drilling one production well into the un-mined coal-seam for the injection of oxygen, while another production well is drilled alongside in order to bring the product gas to the surface. The product gas is synthetic gas (or syngas) which can be used as a fuel for chemicals or for power generation. UCG is suitable for deep coal seams, often too deep to be mined. Also, and most importantly, compared to traditional coal mining and gasification, un der ground coal gas ifica tion does much less damage to the environment.


Modern Technology

 Under ground coal gasifi c ation  was pioneered by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Today UCG is a competitive technology which produces ultra-clean diesel or gasoline, jet fuel, electricity and many different chemicals. Moreover, in contrast to water-intensive coal mining and pulverized coal-fired energy production, UCG does not require an external water source, and this is a major benefit to the environment.

First Under ground coal gasifi c ation  Project in Russia

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Gasification plus GTL

Syngas produced after the gasification process is a unique feedstock which can produce clean motor fuels. Two basic methods are used to convert coal to motor fuels via gasification:


    • Methanol-to-Gasoline (MTG):

      syngas is first converted to methanol (a commercially used process), then the methanol is converted to gasoline by reacting it over a bed of catalysts. Commercial MTG plants are operating successfully in New Zealand and China, and new plants are under development in the United States.

Fischer-Tropsch (FT) Reaction:

  • syngas is converted into a liquid petroleum product. The FT process, with coal as a feedstock, was invented in the 1920s, and used by Germany during World War II. It has been utilized in South Africa since the 1950s, and today is used in Malaysia and the Middle East with natural gas as the feedstock.



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