Coal India launches pilot project for underground coal gasification in Jharkhand

The project, located at the Kasta coal block in Jamtara district, aims to revolutionise the coal industry by producing gases like methane and hydrogen from coal.
Representative Image.
Representative Image.(Photo | Pintrest)

The government on Monday announced that Eastern Coalfields Ltd, a subsidiary of Coal India, has begun a pilot project for underground coal gasification in Jharkhand.

This method converts underground coal into a gas usable for power generation and other applications.

The project, located at the Kasta coal block in Jamtara district, aims to revolutionise the coal industry by producing gases like methane and hydrogen from coal. These gases can be used to create synthetic natural gas, fuels, fertilisers, and more. This initiative demonstrates the government's effort to diversify coal mining and could transform how we use coal for future energy needs.

The first phase, which began on Saturday, involves preparing a technical feasibility report through borehole drilling and core testing. The second phase will focus on pilot-scale coal gasification.

Anadji Prasad, project advisor for the Ministry of Coal, told newindianexpres.com, "Only drilling has begun to assess the potential of underground coal gasification. It's like a parallel activity, a new diversified way to utilise coal."

"Coal is primarily used for power generation, but we're also exploring alternatives like coal-to-chemicals conversion."

"If UCG proves successful, we can pursue both options: using coal for power, as is currently done, and utilising UCG to extract gas without physical mining," Prasad explained.

"The advantage of coal gasification is that you directly convert it into usable gas, synthetic gas," Prasad stated. "With UCG, we wouldn't need to physically mine the coal. This is a good initiative if successful and will be beneficial. We have vast coal deposits at greater depths that can be extracted and utilised. The gas can be converted into power or chemicals. The major advantage is that UCG can extract resources from deposits that are difficult to mine traditionally. But we're waiting to see if it's successful first," he added.

Challenges with underground coal gasification stem from the potential leaching of unwanted substances into groundwater. Subsidence, where the surface actually sinks as the deep seam is gasified, can also be an issue. Mitigation of these risks is being investigated, according to netl.doe.gov

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