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Researchers work on underground coal gasification (UCG) technology

This is Science Today. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has signed a technical agreement to collaborate with BP on the development of underground coal gasification, or UCG, technology. Julio Friedmann, the Lab's Carbon Management Program Leader explains that coal gasification converts coal and water into a synthetic gas composed mostly of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and some carbon dioxide.

Friedmann: Right now, you can go to General Electric or Shell or Conoco Phillips to buy a machine that does this. Underground coal gasification is doing the exact same thing, but using the Earth's crust as the gasifier. So, you don't need to purchase this thing. And it allows you to do two things: one, it allows you to extract the energy value of the coal without the mining and without purchasing a gasifier. The other thing that it does is it reduces a lot of the conventional environmental concerns that people have about coal utilization.

Narrator: The initial two-year technical agreement will address carbon management, environmental risk assessment and numerical modeling of the UCG processes. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.