Underground Coal Gasification - History - Post-war Experiments

Post-war Experiments

After World War II, the shortage in energy and the diffusion of the Soviets' results provoked new interest in Western Europe and the United States. In the United States, tests were conducted in 1947–1960 in Gorgas, Alabama. From 1973–1989, an extensive test was carried out. The United States Department of Energy and several large oil and gas companies conducted several tests. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducted three tests in 1976–1979 at the Hoe Creek test site in Campbell County, Wyoming.

In cooperation with Sandia National Laboratories and Radian Corporation, Livermore conducted experiments in 1981–1982 at the WIDCO Mine near Centralia, Washington. In 1979–1981, an underground gasification of steeply dipping seams was demonstrated near Rawlins, Wyoming. The program culminated in the Rocky Mountain trial in 1986–1988 near Hanna, Wyoming.

In Europe, the stream method was tested at Bois-la-Dame, Belgium, in 1948 and in Jerada, Morocco, in 1949. The borehole method was tested at Newman Spinney and Bayton, United Kingdom, in 1949–1950. A few years later, a first attempt was made to develop a commercial pilot plan, the P5 Trial, at Newman Spinney in 1958–1959. During the 1960s, European work stopped, due to an abundance of energy and low oil prices, but recommenced in the 1980s. Field tests were conducted in 1981 at Bruay-en-Artois and in 1983–1984 at La Haute Deule, France, in 1982–1985 at Thulin, Belgium, and in 1992–1999 the El Tremedal site, Province of Teruel, Spain. In 1988, the Commission of the European Communities and six European countries formed a European Working Group.

In New Zealand, a small scale trial was operated in 1994 in the Huntly Coal Basin. In Australia, tests were conducted starting in 1999. China has operated the largest program since the late 1980s, including 16 trials.

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