Clean coal technology can revive oil reserves in South Africa

Nov 02, 2007 01:00 AM

With global warming cautionary signals already on, the judicious use of coal for multi-product delivery including thermal power generation can be the “GenNext” alternative. Called as clean coal technology (CCT), the new concept, already in business in the West might even address our concern for the depleting oil reserves.
In traditional thermal power plants the coal is burnt to produce energy that makes steam and finally the electricity is obtained through turbines. But the pollution level is high and technically it is very difficult to “capture” the dangerous carbon dioxide.

But through CCT, the carbon capture and storage (CCS) procedure would be much easier now. Not only that, the captured carbon which can be liquefied can also be reused in depleted oil wells and the remaining oil in those wells can be extracted again.
This process, known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is associated with increasing the amount of oil that can be extracted from an oil field. Using EOR, 30-60 % or more ofthe reserve’s original oil can be obtained.

John Sichinga, country president, South African Coal Oil and Gas Corporation (Sasol), said the scientific use of coal through this new method “FutureGen technology” is basically used to build a near zero-emission coal-fuelled power plant that intends to catch carbon dioxide. He was delivering a talk on CCT at the seminar on “India-South Africa cooperation”.
Even with the use of CCT synthetic oil can also be produced from low-grade coal and South Africa has proved that with its very little crude oil reserves it is self-sufficient on oil. It also helps in creating more jobs in a country which is mineral rich and saves foreign exchange by reducing crude oil import.

Taking scientific research to new heights, Sasol has also produced synthetic jet fuel with CCT and the product has got IATA certification, Sichinga said adding, as the US, China are exploring the options through CCT, coal-rich regions like Orissa can also use this technology for a secured future.
‘‘Sasol is also doing consultancy for its unique technical expertise in gasification, chemical processing and synthetic oil research and can also provide energy security ‘know-how’ for areas rich in coal, but has small oil reserves,’’ he added.

Sasol, with one of its German joint-venture partner, is now involved in a coal gasification facility of Jindal Steel and Power Limited, Angul.

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