Sunday, April 12, 2009

Curiouser and curiouser!: Underground Coal-to-Liquids (UCTL) pilot test


UCTL Process flow diagram (click for an enlarged picture), source


The GCC reports that Regal Resources, an Australian company, is planning to acquire Magma Oil, which holds patents in underground coal-to-liquids (UCTL) processes. According to Magma Oil, hydrothermal reactions of coal (lignites) in the presence of suitable catalysts produce steam, methane and hydrocarbon liquids. The hydrocarbon liquids are separated for further refinery processing, whereas the steam (and other products) are reinjected. According to Magma Oil, the advantages of the process are the use of oilfield equipment (significantly lower capital costs compared to surface- and underground coal gasification technologies)and lower temperature (350 C), maximizing liquid hydrocarbon yields.
My comments
One cannot strictly compare the UCTL process to UCG (underground coal gasification) process. UCG technology aims to utilize stranded coal resources (not necessarily limited to lignites), and therefore requires some capital outlay for advanced (horizontal) drilling equipment. On the other hand, from the information available, it seems that the UCTL process works with mineable coal seams as well (seam depth > 50 m). Whereas previous UCG pilot tests have established to some level of certainty that groundwater pollution can be avoided, this is doubly important for the UCTL technologies where significantly higher quantities of water and other chemicals (catalysts) are likely injected. Other competitors to UCTL processes include the Syntroleum-Linc Energy air-based UCG-synfuel process also produces above-ground Fischer-Tropsch liquids from air-blown UCG syngas.
Two other issues might also be important: namely, the availability of supplementary "natural catalysts/impurities located in all coal seams" (coals are necessarily heterogeneous) and the real extent of zeolite-formation and CO2 sequestration.
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2 comments:

Oil Field Equipment said...

Great! lets get it to work!

Oilfield equipment

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