Experiments are underway in Poland in an attempt to boost coal gasification, a process which converts coal into gas.
Coal is one of the most polluting fossil fuels, and Poland is one of Europe’s worst coal polluters. Gasification results in the extraction of the much cleaner gas, methane, to the surface.
The process will take place in a mine 400 metres below ground, where a special reactor is being built. A mixture of gas, air, oxygen and steam will be pumped into the reactor to turn more than a thousand tonnes of coal into gas, at a temperature of 1,200 degrees Celsius.
“We are in the experimental corridor, which was built especially for coal gasification. Preparations for the gasification process are underway, so you can see that special supports are being built to hold a pipeline which will extract the products of the gasification. Behind us, they are working to drill outlets for the geo-reactor, where the coal will be burnt,” said engineer Ryszard Gowarzewski from the site.
The gas which comes out as a result of the process is already dust-and tar-free. Once extracted, it undergoes a further cleaning process. Gas obtained from coal can be used to power electricity-generating turbines, and can also be used by the chemical industry.
Rising global energy prices and dwindling stocks have revived interest in such experiments in recent years, and Poland must reduce its current dependency on basic coal mining if it wants to meet the EU’s strict emissions targets.