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Plans to establish a $2.6 billion coal gasification plan using the deep brown coal resources at the old Leigh Creek mine in South Australia have been pushed along after an initial feasibility study suggested the project could also target the low cost production of fossil-fuelled hydrogen.
The Leigh Creek Energy Project is seeking to tap into brown coal reserves in South Australia left idle by the closure of the state’s two highly polluting and ageing coal fired power generators, using an ‘in-situ’ coal gasification process that involves the production of syngas directly within the coal deposits.
The controversial project comes as the state government pushes its own “green hydrogen” strategy that it has said could create an “epic” lift in the state’s wind and solar capacity, potentially rising six fold or by more than 12GW if three renewable hydrogen hubs identified by the state Liberal government go ahead.
Despite this, and the push for zero emissions, Leigh Creek is still trying to push the idea of syngas from its coal reserves, with the company saying it will drill down into the coal deposit, and with a mixture of heat, water and air and a number of chemical conversions convert the coal into a syngas. A total of 41 gasifiers are planned for the Leigh Creek site.
Primarily, the project is looking to undertake the production of fertiliser materials, by converting the syngas into ammonia, and subsequently into urea, and will target export demand for the fertiliser materials.
The process of manufacturing urea involves the combination of ammonia with carbon dioxide, with 730 kilograms of carbon dioxide consumed in the production of each tonne of urea. The company says this will help account for some of the carbon dioxide produced from the extraction of syngas.
This article first appeared on reneweconomy.com.au
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