In Situ Conversion of Texas Lignite to Synthetic Fuels

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Edgar, Thomas F.
Kaiser, W. R.
Thompson, T. W.

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The current research on underground gasification of Texas lignite was initiated in September 1974. The initial phase of the work (1974-75) consisted of a technical and economic feasibility study. The results of that one-year study, as reported in a previous Semi-Annual Report (November 1975), indicated that in situ gasification of the large reserves of deep-basin Texas lignite would be quite attractive both technically and economically. In November 1975, experimental investigations were initiated to determine which geological, physical, and chemical conditions would be conducive to the application of underground gasification. Another goal of this project is the development of a mechanistic description of the dominant chemical and physical processes occurring during underground coal gasification; such models would provide a design basis for later field testing.

The project staff currently consists of three principal investigators, plus an additional six faculty and staff, eight graduate students, and eight undergraduate students. The principal funding for this project has come from the National Science Foundation Research Applied to National Needs Program (RANN); a two-year grant was received in November 1975. Several private companies have also generously made contributions in support of the research program. These companies include Texas Utilities Services, Conoco, Shell, Dow, Mobil, Du Pont, and ARCO. These companies also provide technical advice to the research project.

Since the nature of the research program has changed significantly during the last six months, with a heavy orientation on experimental aspects of the process, many of the individual research projects have just recently been initiated. Thus, only preliminary reports on their progress are available at this time. It is hoped that at the time of the next Semi-Annual Report, some substantive findings will be available. Experimental work in the areas of reaction kinetics, physical properties of lignite and overburden, and environmental impact are currently underway. More details on these efforts are contained in this report.


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