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Naka, Ryosuke (Hokkaido University) | Tatekawa, Takuto (Hokkaido University) | Kodama, Jun-ichi (Hokkaido University) | Sugawara, Takayuki (Hokkaido University) | Itakura, Ken-ichi (Muroran Institute of Technology) | Hamanaka, Akihiro (Kyushu University) | Deguchi, Gota (NPO Underground Resources Innovation Network)
Underground Coal Gasification is expected to be efficient technique for coal energy recovery from deep or complex coal seam since directional drilling technique is advancing in these days. Authors have been performing small-scale UCG model tests to clear gasification and combustion process in UCG. Then, we found that radial cracks were initiated from the cavity formed in the artificial coal seam. Understanding mechanism of the crack initiation is important for clarification of the detail process of combustion and gasification and assessment for environmental risks. In this study, thermal stress analysis was performed on the small-scale UCG model tests to consider the initiation mechanism of the cracks by assuming that combustion and gasification of coal were progressing through the following three processes which are often observed in coal carbonization: (A) thermal expansion, (B) softening and melting and (C) thermal contraction. It was found that tensile stress was induced in the vicinity of the cavity in the tangential direction in process C. Direction of principal stress in the coal was almost parallel to tangential or radial direction of the cavity and the magnitude of it exceeded coal tensile strength. It was also found that tensile stress zone was extended into deeper coal seam with increase in temperature and time and compressive stress zone was formed outside of the tensile stress zone. It can be considered that the radial cracks initiated at the surface of the cavity since tangential tensile stress exceeded tensile strength of coal. Then, radial cracks were arrested at the boundary of tensile stress zone and compressive stress zone after they were propagating in coal seam.
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is a technique to use coal energy more efficiently and cheaply. In UCG, oxidant is injected into underground through an injection well to gasify coal seam, and syngas is recovered from a production well (Fig. 1). It is expected that UCG increases available amount of coal energy because even low-grade, complex and deep coal can be used by UCG.
It is pointed out that UCG has risks of surface subsidence and groundwater pollution because cracks are likely to initiate in coal seam by combustion and gasification. Therefore, clarification of initiation and growth mechanisms of the cracks is significant for stability assessment of ground as well as assessing environmental risks.
We performed small-scale UCG model tests on massive coal and crushed coal samples to clear gasification and combustion process in UCG. It was found that radical cracks were initiated in an artificial coal seam made by massive coal as well as crushed coal (Fig. 2 (Kodama et al., 2016)). Similar radial cracks were also observed in large-scale UCG model test (NPO Underground Resources Innovation Network, 2016).
Hamanaka, Akihiro (Kyushu University) | Itakura, Ken-ichi (Muroran Institute of Technology) | Su, Fa-qiang (Henan Polytechnic University) | Deguchi, Gota (Underground Resources Innovation Network) | Kodama, Jun-ichi (Hokkaido University)
Underground coal gasification (UCG) is a process of producing combustible gases by the in-situ conversion of coal into gaseous products. Coal resources abandoned under the ground for either technical or economic reasons can be recovered with economically and less environmental impacts by UCG; therefore, this technology is regarded as a clean coal technology. UCG has several advantages of low investments, high efficiency, and high benefits compared to conventional coal gasification. However, some environmental risks such as gas leakage, surface subsidence, and underground water pollution are difficult to control because the process is invisible. The reactor in UCG is unstable and expands continuously due to fracturing activity caused by coal combustion. It is, therefore, considered that acoustic emission (AE) is an effective tool to monitor the fracturing activities and visualize the inner part of coal. For this study, UCG model experiments were conducted using coal blocks of 0.55 × 0.60 × 2.74 m to discuss the applicability of AE monitoring for the estimation of the crack generations during UCG process and the extent of the gasification area. Temperatures were also monitored because the crack generations were strongly related to thermal stress occurred by coal combustion and heat transfer. The monitoring results of AE agreed with the measured data of temperatures and the gasification area; the source location of AE was detected around the region temperature increased and the gasification area. Additionally, the gasified coal amount can be predicted by using the data of product gas. Therefore, AE monitoring combined with the prediction of reacted coal amount are expected to be a useful tool as monitoring system of the gasifier in the underground.
Underground coal gasification (UCG) is a technique to extract energy from coal in the form of heat energy and combustible gases through the chemical reactions in the underground gasifier. This technique enables to utilize coal resources that remain unrecoverable in underground due to either technological or economic reasons. Most coal mining in Japan was closed by 2001 because of complicated geological conditions for mining development and high prices of domestic coal. However, abundant unused coal resources remain underground, but they are not recoverable because of technical and economic reasons. Such coal resources are estimated to be 30 billion tons. For that reason, UCG has a great potential to recover vast amounts of energy from these coal resources.