NZ Herald: Pilot project to burn NZ coal underground

Grant Bradley writes about a pilot project taking place, in Waikato, to test underground coal gasification (UCG), which makes use of inaccessible coal by turning it into a syngas which can be used to produce energy.

The technology is already used elsewhere in the world.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“The process has been successfully used in Uzbekistan for decades and there are three projects running in Queensland and another in South Africa.

“It involves pumping air into a coal seam hundreds of metres deep which is ignited with hot coal and then burns at temperatures up to 1000C.

“The air, heat and pressure from being deep underground initiate a reaction which turns the coal into syngas which is released up another steel-cased well.

“Gas rich in hydrogen and carbon monoxide are captured at the well head where they can be processed. During the $22 million trial over two years it will be burned off.

“”There is no chance of uncontrolled fire because we’re pumping down high pressure air. As soon as we shut that off the water floods in and that puts it out.””