Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Underground Coal Gasification
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is another burgeoning area of interest. UCG allows access to more of the physical global coal resource than would be included in current economically recoverable reserve estimates. Where mining is no longer taking place, for economic or geological reasons, UCG permits exploitation of deposits by the controlled gasification (again a reaction of coal to form a syngas) of coal seams in situ. Carbon dioxide from the process can safely be returned to the gasified seam, resulting in zero emissions and very little ground disturbance.
Feasibility studies and demonstrations are ongoing in the UK, Russia, China, South Africa and New Zealand, amongst others.
Early studies suggest that the use of UCG could potentially increase world reserves by as much as 600 billion tonnes. (Fig. 1-6 )