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OFR 2009-10

Review of Underground Coal Gasification with Reference to Alberta's Potential

Abstract: This report provides information on the underground coal gasification process in terms of concept, history, applications, technical and environmental issues. It also presents worldwide commercial sites and an assessment on the Alberta coal resources suitable to the process.Underground coal gasification (UCG) is a process that makes coal resources, which are not economically amendable through conventional mining, available through underground combustion. UCG is an alternative source of energy in several countries around the world. In Alberta, the process has been tested since the summer of 2008 at two locations: southwest of Edmonton targeting the Ardley coal zone and northwest of Edmonton where the Upper Mannville coals represent the target.The UCG operates by drilling designs of injection-production systems enabling in-situ conversion of coal into syngas (synthesis gas) by pyrolysis, combustion and gasification. Syngas is a mixture of mainly carbon monoxide and hydrogen used as fuel in power generation, as well as feedstock for various chemical products and as synthetic pipeline gas, a replacement of natural gas. The main UCG by-products are in-situ deposits (roof rock fragments and ash-rubble) and released residue (flue gases and fly-ash), which are under-control captured, managed, or discarded.In Alberta, the Cordilleran foreland holds approximately 40% of the Canadian estimates of coal underground resources, which at this stage, are not economically exploitable through conventional mining. Examination of preliminary evaluations of the coal potential in Alberta, suggests that the primary UCG targets are the Ardley, Horseshoe Canyon and Upper Mannville coal zones. One area with UCG potential within each of these coal zones has been selected, compared and discussed in terms of opportunities and challenges. The selected areas are south of Pigeon Lake for the Ardley coal zone, south and east of Edmonton for the Horseshoe Canyon and Upper Mannville coal zones, respectively. The competition of UCG operations with CBM exploration/exploitation and CO2 storage in some areas may require a regional evaluation of the coal resources to define the coal zone's suitability to one or the other application and to prevent risks. Place Keywords 72e 72l 72m 73d 73e 73l 73m 74d 74e 74l 74m 82g 82h 82i 82j 82n 82o 82p 83a 83b 83c 83d 83e 83f 83g 83h 83i 83j 83k 83l 83m 83n 83o 83p 84a 84b 84c 84d 84e 84f 84g 84h 84i 84j 84k 84l 84m 84n 84o 84p alberta canada central alberta Theme Keywords alberta plains coal geology mannville coal zone underground coal gasification process

Pana, C.  2009-08-28