The link to a cleaner energy future

THE one-of-a-kind Linc Energy Chinchilla Demonstration Facility (CDF) in Queensland’s Surat Basin was established to prove that underground coal gasification (UCG) and gas to liquids (GTL) technologies could be combined to produce cleaner power and fuels.

Completed in 2008, the CDF remains an important research and development centre as Linc seeks to establish commercial operation of the technologies in Australia.
Linc is the world leader in UCG – the process undertaken to produce a synthesis gas (syngas) feedstock for the production of valuable cleaner energy solutions such as power generation, fuel production and petrochemical processes.
The UCG process begins deep in coal seams through accessing ‘stranded’ coal that doesn’t the need to be mined and processed above ground, transforming the underground coal into a high quality syngas of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane as heat and oxygen are introduced.

Linc listed on the ASX in 2006 with the intention of becomming a world-class generator of syngas. It operates three energy divisions – oil and gas and enhanced oil recovery; coal; and clean energy and clean fuels – and holds about 3 million acres of coal tenure and more than 22 million acres of oil and gas acreage across four countries.

Its interests include large undeveloped coal resources in Queensland, South Australia and the US.
Linc initiated UCG trial operations in mid 1999 on farmland near Chinchilla and its first field generator trial produced syngas later that year.
In 2008, the company completed construction of the CDF, including four UCG generators, a GTL pilot plant and a laboratory. Combining UCG and GTL technologies, Linc successfully produced its first high-quality hydrocarbon liquids at the facility in October of that year. In October 2011 the company ignited a fifth UCG gasifier at the facility.

The path to commercialisation In March 2011, Linc chief executive Peter Bond drove the company’s promotional Volkswagen Polo on a 6000km journey from the CDF to Perth, powered by synthetic diesel created by the company.
With a mission to prove that combining UCG and GTL technologies could produce a cleaner, more reliable and more efficient fuel than conventional diesel, Mr Bond arrived in Perth after 10 days of travelling.
“It’s like putting a premium diesel fuel in your car in terms of clean burning and environmental performance,” Mr Bond said in a company media release following the demonstration.

He added that in a world that relied heavily on coal, oil and gas for its industry and transportation needs, more efficient ways of accessing energy were required as the demand for more energy continued.
“UCG to GTL is one technology process that can make a meaningful difference to improve the access to longer-term, affordable energy sources,” Mr Bond said.
“Our Queensland Demonstration Facility is the only place in the world where this unique and remarkable UCG to GTL process has been achieved.”
In May this year, Linc took its commercial demonstration one step further, chartering a jet plane powered by its synthetic fuel. Dubbed the Jet A1 Dash, the promotional tour saw Mr Bond cover 4272km in three days on a Citation J2 aircraft that departed Perth, with stops in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney before completing its journey at the CDF in Chinchilla.

According to Australian Government Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics data, in 2011 Australia’s net import of crude oil and refined material for the production of transport fuel totalled about 470,000 barrels per day. At a crude oil price of US$100 per barrel, the net cost to Australia exceeded US$47 million per day, or US$17 billion per annum.
Mr Bond described the creation of jet fuel using the UCG to GTL process as “a new frontier”, and said the Jet A1 Dash had showcased the environmental and economic benefits of using Linc’s technology.

“Linc Energy has the ability to access coal at over three hundred-plus metres deep, turn that coal into gas in-situ and then turn that gas into a clean synthetic fuel and do it in a cost effective manner,” he said.
“The exciting part of this event is that we have used our resources, our people and our technology to produce synthetic jet fuel here in Queensland, Australia.”

“The [Jet A1 Dash] demonstrates that jet fuel can be made in Australia from coal resources using processes such as Linc Energy’s UCG to GTL technology. This was always on our list to achieve and now Linc Energy has achieved it.”
Mr Bond said that if Australia had the capacity to produce more of its own jet fuel and diesel products, many concerns about rising oil prices and the balance of payment deficits
could be addressed.

“We should be creating alternatives. We should be saying that we, as a nation, want and need an additional 20 per cent of our jet fuel, or our diesel, to be produced here in this country using Australian employees and engineers,” he said.
The fuel powering the Jet A1 Dash tour was manufactured to standards approved by the International Air Transport Association.
After the fuel was produced in Australia, further specialist refining was undertaken in the US.
Mr Bond said that, following the successful completion of the Jet A1 Dash, Linc’s focus would turn to commercialisation of the UCG to GTL process for production of both diesel and jet fuel.

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