Though the chemistry and industrial processes for coal gasification were developed early in the 20th century by European scientists, Chinese engineers have recently developed a number of technical advances. And more efficient processes means using less coal to produce more chemicals.
Near Xilinhot, in eastern Inner Mongolia, China is testing a gasification process that doesn’t need a plant at all, but instead collects hot gases produced from an underground coal seam that was deliberately set on fire. The experimental “in-situ” coal-gasification practice has proven so efficient—using less coal and saving the water needed for coal mining and processing—that China has approved three additional demonstration projects across the northern and western regions.
Graphic by Season Schafer, Greg Hudson, Valerie Carnevale, Chelsea Kardokus, and Vicki Rosenberger, undergraduate students at Ball State University.
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