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Coal’s Backup Plan: Ignite It Underground

Dec 21, 2012
(Midwest Energy News)

As low-cost natural gas displaces more and more conventional coal plants, a relatively unknown method for extracting energy from coal — without removing it from the ground — might seem far-fetched.

Backers of the technique, however, still believe the technology has a future in an increasingly carbon-constrained world.

Underground coal gasification, or UCG, is a method in which coal seams are basically ignited underground, and the gas released by the combustion is harvested and refined so that it can be burned in power plants to produce electricity, used to heat homes or liquefied as fuel for vehicles or aviation.