Unconventional mining technologies for clean and efficient power generation

Vasyuchkov, YU. F. ; Vasioutchkov, K. ; Vorobjev, B. M.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1999
Introduction It is now believed that, even with the environmental protection measures now being taken, the further application of traditional coal-mining and electric power-generation technologies will inevitably cause further irreversible damage to the global ecosystem. Further improvements in conventional coal-mining technologies, both surface and underground, are expected to have only limited impacts on the economical, ecological and social aspects of coal mining. In countries with a developed coal industry, coal reserves with favorable conditions at shallow depths are rapidly being depleted. Therefore, in the future, more coal will be mined from deeper levels, resulting in higher operational costs and lower labor productivity. The solution to this problem is to be found in developing, promoting and implementing unconventional coal-mining and advanced clean-coal technologies. This paper presents an unconventional concept that has been suggested by the authors. The basic goal is to achieve coal-methane energy resource conservation and to remove barriers to energy efficiency through the adoption of integrated, ecologically clean, innovative technology. The following principles form the foundation of this concept: Energy resource conservation: This principle concerns the exploitation of actual and potential coal-methane reserves in the most effective way with the lowest possible losses and with the application of the most energy-efficient electric power-generation technology. Energy conversion: Energy conversion means the conversion of solid coal to synthetic fuel gas (in situ or in-cycle), the conversion of methane bounded within the coal matrix to free-flowing drained meth¬ane, the conversion of solid coal in situ to a coal/water mixture (slurry), and the conversion of these gas fuels into electric power. Technological and managerial integration: This prin¬ciple means an integration of coal-gas methane min¬ing operations and electric power generation into one commercial mine-to-product enterprise with electric power as the final product. Thus, coalbed methane drainage and coal gasification (both in situ and in-cycle) integrated with a combined cycle of electric power generation constitutes a highly integrated coal-gas methane energy-generation system. The system can be materialized in the form of a local integrated coal-gas electric power complex (LICGEPC). General features of the new concept The coal-gas-methane electricity concept is actually a synthesis of the following four technological components: Coalbed methane drainage. This technique and its utilization attained recognition after commercial operations were proven successful in the San Juan and Black Worriers coalfields in the United States. Worldwide, extensive field experiments and research-and-development activities are being carried out in the area of coalbed methane exploitation and utilization. Recently, coalbed methane drainage for power generation has been undergoing intensive research and development. At the Harworth Colliery in the United Kingdom, a combinedcycle power plant has been built that uses coalbed methane. The plant has an installed capacity of 15 MW Also, Germany, Australia, the CIS and China have conducted various experiments and industrial tests on the use of coalbed methane power generation. Underground coal gasification. Another unconventional technological approach is underground coal gasification (UCG). A number of semi-commercial, demonstration and pilot projects have been undertaken in Russia, the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and Belgium to demonstrate the technical and economical viability of coal gasification in situ. In Uzbekistan, the Angren coal-gasification station has been in full-scale commercial operation for two decades. The operation supplies a power plant with synthetic coal gas. Under sponsorship of the US Department of Energy's Morgantown Energy Technology Center, large-scale laboratory tests simulating coal gasification in situ were successfully completed by the
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