Coal Gasification in India: What is It, Benefits and Disadvantages
Coal is responsible for covering more than half of India’s energy needs. But like all fossil fuels, it’s non-renewable and very polluting. India needs sustainable and cleaner energy sources if it wants to develop and achieve economic milestones.
Coal gasification is an alternative and better way of exploiting coal reserves to produce energy. It’s also more environment-friendly and can reduce carbon emissions if used correctly.
What is Coal Gasification?
Coal releases a lot of energy upon combustion and is used in thermal power plants to generate electricity. Another major use of coal is to produce coal gas or town gas, but it’s not much prevalent nowadays.
Coal is considered to be the most polluting fossil fuel. Its by-products include several greenhouse gases, predominantly carbon dioxide (CO2). During gasification, coal is partially oxidised at extremely high temperatures, instead of being directly burned, resulting in emission of syngas.
Syngas is a mixture of CO2, carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), and water vapour. Syngas has wide-ranging usage in the agriculture, energy, and chemical industries.
Benefits of Coal Gasification
As evident from the Ukraine crisis, fuel sources hold the power to undermine a country’s functioning. India, being a diplomatically neutral country, managed to make the most of the situation, but it still needs more self-reliance when it comes to meeting energy demands. Coal gasification is a much-needed step in that direction.
Also, addressing climate change and global warming is the need of the hour. Coal gasification is a cleaner, less-polluting method of processing coal. It emits less carbon upon burning, and other polluting gases like CO2 can be easily separated, captured, and put to other uses.
The syngas derived from coal gasification can also be further treated to create fuels like gasoline and diesel. Other by-products of coal gasification, like hydrogen, can be used to make ammonia, explore alternate fuel sources or in the petrochemical industry.
Disadvantages of Coal Gasification
Coal gasification actually emits much more carbon dioxide than other processes. Coal gasification reduces overall waste, but it still releases a substantial amount of CO2.
Coal gasification is also a more energy and water-intensive process than traditional methods. But it’s a relatively new method and is still evolving. However, coal gasification’s potential benefits far outweigh its disadvantages.