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Underground Coal Gasification Could Aid Hydrogen Production

While the talk about clean coal started under the Bush administration and has continued under the Obama administration, what has been neglected is the discussion concerning underground coal gasification (UCG). What this means is that many coal seams are too deep to mine.

So, in order to take advantage of these huge coal reserves companies could drill, inject oxygen or air and burn the coal to produce a hydrogen rich gas. This gas would be piped to the surface and the hydrogen separated from the carbon dioxide and used for fuel in cars.

The CO2 would then be sequestered and either sold on the open market or perhaps even be pumped back into the empty space 1,500 meters below the surface of the ground where the coal used to be. Or the CO2 could be used in abandoned oil wells to pumped more oil and be sequestered there.

This procedure would tap into a new source for coal that was previously thought to be unreachable. Since U. S. coal is plentiful and cheap right now this would give a low-cost solution to producing mass quantities of hydrogen.

The downside of underground coal gasification is that even though this would reduce our reliance upon foreign fossil fuels, we would still be reliant upon our own fossil fuels to create energy which cannot sustain itself more than 100+ years. Sequestering carbon safely in a tight seal among bedrock is another issue.

On the positive side this would create more U. S. jobs, and if done correctly would be clean technology plus this would supply large amounts of hydrogen cheaply for the future rollout of H2 cars. This may not be the ultimate solution for creating clean hydrogen such as wind, solar, geothermal or hydro electric, but this could be a short-term solution that will buy us time until the other renewable energy solutions advance in their technologies.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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One comment

  1. admin

    Here’s an email from Michael who makes a good point about using the CO2 to grow the kind of algae that produces hydrogen:

    Kevin, Just read your idea of underground coal gasification. How do you plan to control the release of the hydrogen and co2? I remember hearing of under ground fires in coal mines that were sealed because they could not put them out and just left to burn and it caused a VERY big health problem for the people above the mines that were still burning. It would be better to forget about those seams and just pipe the co2 from coal burning plants and feed it to algea growing systems built next to the power plants now and in the future. This would reduce the co2 released into the air and provide a fuel source at the same time.
    If is too deep to mine, it is probably too deep to provide a control release of the gases made by the fire

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