Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Meeting to Probe New Coal Gasification Plans

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Meeting to Probe New Coal Gasification Plans

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor

APUBLIC meeting and a play will examine plans to tackle the North East's power needs by extracting energy from underground coal reserves and rock strata.

The meeting today at 7.30pm at St James's Church Centre at Pottergate in Alnwick has been called by Friends of the Earth.

Academics from Newcastle University have secured licences for underground coal gasification over 400sqkms off the Northumberland coast from the mouth of the Tyne northwards and have set up a company called Five-Quarter to take the concept forward.

The company says that three quarters of the North East's coal reserves are still underground.

The meeting will be addressed by one of the founders of Five-Quarter, former Newcastle University professor Paul Younger, and Simon Bowens, North East Campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

Martin Swinbank, a member of Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth said: "Coal is traditionally the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Professor Younger tells us that we can extract energy from it offshore.

We'll be interested to understand how this can be done without exacerbating climate change and without having any impact on Northumberland's priceless coastline."

Newcastle-based Five-Quarter says that its method of extracting gas is a "highly sophisticated and fine-tuned technology, rather like keyhole surgery".

It involves drilling narrow boreholes up to 2km below the seabed. Oxygen and steam are then injected, reacting with the rocks to produce the dominant components of synthesis gas (syngas) - hydrogen and carbon monoxide, methane and carbon dioxide.

The company says these are then safely collected and cleaned, with no emissions to the atmosphere. The boreholes are located well away from shore and many kilometres from any aquifers used for supplying water. …

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