Washington, Feb 16 : A scientist of Indian origin, along with his colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PLNN), has determined that coal gasification is one of the most versatile and clean ways to convert coal into electricity.
According to S.K. Sundaram, who's a PNNL staff scientist, "Advances in gasification will help us meet demand for clean energy worldwide."
"Science and technology are paving the way for cleaner coal for future generations," he added.
There is a growing consensus that increased demand for electricity will cement coal's place in the energy portfolio for years to come.
In fact, with demand for electricity expected to double by 2050 and renewable resources still years away from offsetting increased demand, it is clear that coal might be one of the best alternatives for electricity generation.
"Coal gasification offers one of the most versatile and clean ways to convert coal into electricity, hydrogen and other valuable energy products," said George Muntean, staff scientist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
"Gasification provides significant economic and environmental benefits to conventional coal power plants," he added. ather than burning coal directly, gasification breaks down coal into its basic chemical constituents using high temperature and pressure. Because of this, carbon dioxide can be captured from a gas stream far more easily than from the smokestacks of a conventional coal plant.
According to Muntean, "If we plan to use our domestic supply of coal to produce energy, and do so in a way that does not intensify atmospheric CO2 concentrations, gasification is critical."
"It has the potential to enable carbon capture and sequestration technologies and play an important role in securing domestic sources of transportation fuels," he explained.any experts predict that coal gasification will be at the heart of clean coal technology if current lifespan and economic challenges are addressed.
One significant challenge is the historically short lifespan of refractories, which are used to line and protect the inside of a gasifier. Currently, refractories have a lifespan of 12 to 16 months.
"Gasification happens in an extreme environment so the lifespan of refractories is historically low," said Sundaram. "Refractory lifespan must be increased before we can realize the promise of clean coal," he added.
According to Sundaram, "Advances in modeling will help us better understand some of the key challenges associated with coal gasification - refractory durability and lifespan."
"This will help reduce the capital costs of operating a coal gasifier," he added.