Explained: How coal gasification can help India reduce its energy import

News:Odisha’s Talcher fertiliser plant has been awarded a contract for starting a coal gasification unit for the production of urea and Ammonia.

Facts:

What is coal gasification?

  • Coal gasification is the process of converting coal into synthesis gas (also called syngas) which is a mixture of hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). 
  • The syngas can be used in a variety of applications such as in the production of electricity and making chemical products such as fertilisers.
  • According to the International Energy Agency report, the coal gasification process holds good potential in the future with coal being the most abundantly available fossil fuel across the world and that even low-grade coal can be used in the process.

Significance of coal gasification:

  • According to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers,urea is currently produced using pooled natural gas, which comprises of both domestic natural gas and imported LNG. 
  • Hence,the usage of locally available coal for making fertilisers would help reduce the import of LNG.
  • Further,India currently imports 50 to 70 lakh tonnes of urea every year, and the revival of the units would help increase the availability of domestically produced fertilisers.
  • The project would also generate direct and indirect employment of around 4,500 people.

Concerns:

  • Coal gasification is one of the more water-intensive forms of energy production.
  • There are concerns about water contamination, land subsidence and disposing of waste water safely.
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