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Linc Energy starts up 5th underground coal gasifier at Chinchilla; final phase in development prior to commercial roll-out (corrected)

24 October 2011

Underground coal gasification (UCG) company Linc Energy Ltd. announced the completion and start-up of its fifth underground coal gasifier at Chinchilla, Australia (earlier post). This represents the final phase in the technological development of Linc Energy’s UCG technology prior to its commercial roll-out.

Gasifier 5 is 132 meters deep and 820 meters long, making it the longest underground gasifier in the world and the longest designed by Linc Energy to date. Linc Energy’s aim is to average in excess of 1,000 meters in length for each gasifier in its commercial operations.

Gasifier 5 incorporates the application of proprietary oxygen injection equipment to enable production of higher quality synthesis gas for optimizing GTL and other downstream plant designs.

It is estimated Gasifier 5 will produce up to 480,000 gigajoules of energy during the two to three years life expectancy, and gasify 24,000 tonnes of coal depending on the level of oxygen enrichment. The estimated single cavity width is 16 meters within a coal seam height of 5.5 meters.

Gasifier 5 has advanced design methodologies and technologies specially tailored to support UCG for the rollout of Linc Energy's commercial EOR and GTL (gas-to-liquids) energy applications. Some of the attributes of the Fifth Generation of Technology are:

  • Advanced site characterization of the coal and overburden geology and hydrogeology using more detailed and more comprehensive techniques than previously available;

  • Fifth generation gasifier design creates significantly more UCG gas flows which lowers gas cost;

  • Proprietary horizontal well completions to facilitate multiple ignition points and continuous syngas quality control;

  • New wellhead design catering for instrumentation capillaries and coil tubing insertions;

  • Comprehensive and state-of-the-art measurement of gasifier temperature, pressure and other key variables to calibrate UCG models for commercial operation;

  • Capability to allow evaluation of multi-gasifier water interaction;

  • Ability to demonstrate production well quenching designs for syngas temperature and quality control;

  • Demonstration of extensive environmental monitoring and control capabilities;

  • Subsurface measurement of temperature, pressure and groundwater quality in the coal seam and surrounding formations; and

  • Improved process control and automation.

Gasifier 5 will run simultaneously with Gasifier 4 which has been in continuous operation since February 2010. Gasifier 4 has converted more than 10,000 tonnes of coal, producing more than 40 million cubic meters of syngas at the Chinchilla facility.

With the commencement of Gasifier 5, Linc Energy now has two separate facilities (Chinchilla and Yerostigaz (Angren)) with multiple gasifiers in operation. The Chinchilla operation is the first of its kind in the western world to operate multi-panel UCG gasifiers.

Linc Energy says that core to its approach to UCG has been to develop a fundamental understanding of the gasification process. Linc has invested in the development of a series of proprietary software models to predict and control the process and to maximize gasifier performance. This has included models for site selection, groundwater flow and monitoring, sub-surface subsidence, cavity growth and syngas quality. Linc Energy believes it is now the world leader in UCG modeling and is continuing to develop tools which will provide the ability to monitor sub-surface UCG operations in real time, ensuring immediate feedback for its modellers.

The Chinchilla Demonstration Facility has more than 100 monitoring wells used for pressure measurement (using piezometers) and groundwater sampling. Since the beginning of Linc Energy’s operations, more than 20,000 groundwater samples have validated the environmental performance. Linc’s water treatment facility in Chinchilla is capable of treating up to 24,000 liters per day of process water and work is currently planned to further expand this facility both in size and efficiency.

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