September 29, 2008

University Leading the Way

THE work being carried out at Newcastle University into clean fuels is both complex in its detail and simple in its aim.

Prof Paul Younger is leading a team which wants to turn coal into energy using underground gasification and capture power station emissions using Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

Underground gasification is a process first trialled in the Durham coalfields in 1912, whereby coal is gasified underground by injecting steam and oxygen via boreholes into the seam.

The resultant gas - known as synthetic gas or syngas - is drawn to the surface through neighbouring boreholes and used to power gas turbines that generate electricity.

CCS involves adapting a power station to make sure harmful emissions are not released into the environment.

The process sees CO2 emissions pushed underground into porous rocks and underground vaults made available through mining and oil drilling.

Some of the best natural containers are old oil and gas fields, such as those in the North Sea.

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