Scientists in China are reporting an advance in clean-coal technology that could substantially reduce the cost of producing clean-burning fuels from underground deposits of coal.
They describe 40 years of failed efforts to tap the potential of shaftless underground coal gasification, the most economical kind of underground gasification, in which laborers are not required to work below the surface to carve out chambers in which coal is converted into gas. Building those gasification galleries is expensive and has made underground coal gasification unattractive economically
Update (backdate?): Underground coal fires called a 'catastrophe'
Concern and action is needed, he said, because of the environmental impact -- especially of mega-fires burning in India, China and elsewhere in Asia. One coal fire in northern China, for instance, is burning over an area more than 3,000 miles wide and almost 450 miles long.
The Chinese fires also make a big, hidden contribution to global warming through the greenhouse effect, scientists said. Each year they release 360 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as much as all the cars and light trucks in the United States.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2/15/03)
Update II: here's the ITC Coal Fire Homepage
"At present, Chinese coal fires produce 2-3% of the world's total annual output of CO2 caused by fossil fuels."
International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (Home)