Coal Gasification was apparently first suggested by two German
engineers, brothers Werner and Wilhelm Siemens, as early as
Independently of that, the Russian scientist Dmitry I. Mendeleev
had been developing a detailed design for, and operational
concepts of, UCG in his large body of work that was published
throughout the 1880s and '90s. An early UCG patent was granted
in 1909 to the American inventor A.G. Betts.
plan for the first actual UCG experiment was announced by
the English chemist Sir William Ramsey in 1912. He was able
to obtain funding for the trial, but died before commencing
the experiment. Because of Ramsey's unfortunate death and
the onset of World War I, all UCG experiments in England were
put off, and were not resumed until after the end of World
War II, thirty years later.
Vladimir Lenin, a Russian revolutionary in exile in Zurich,
misread newspaper reports on Ramsey's UCG plans, and mistakenly
concluded that a successful UCG trial had already been completed.
In May 1913, he published an article in Pravda calling UCG
"one of the great triumphs of technology", and praising
its social significance because of the elimination of hard
mining labor. His mistake laid the foundation for more than
70 years of UCG development
in the USSR. The Soviet UCG program was championed and personally
supervised by Joseph Stalin. Launched in 1928, the Soviet
development created a UCG method capable of extracting commercial
quantities of coal. The first commercial-scale UCG plant began
operation in 1937. By 1996, when the last Russian UCG plant
was shut down, the UCG plants in the Soviet Union had extracted
over 17 million metric tonnes of coal.
The Soviet UCG program was significantly downsized and lost
its momentum in the 1960s, when large reserves of natural
gas and oil were discovered in Russia.
Intermittent and disparate UCG activities in Western Europe
(France, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and others)
have not thus far resulted in development of a UCG technology
capable of supporting coal recovery on a commercial scale.
In the USA, following early UCG trials after World War II,
a modern and well-funded UCG development program took place
in the 1970s and 1980s. Over 30 UCG experiments had been conducted
in the States at the time, culminating in the Rocky Mountain
1 in 1988. Decreased natural gas and oil prices eliminated
the rationale for the government-funded UCG program in the
US, and in 1989 the program was abandoned before it had the
chance to produce a commercially applicable UCG technology.
In 1993, when UCG had been in neglect and decline
everywhere, Ergo Exergy Technologies Inc started our UCG saga
in Montréal, Canada. Within six years, at the end of
1999, we had produced our first syngas in the Chinchilla UCG
project in Australia. Australian businessman and UCG enthusiast
Dr Len Walker played a decisive role in creating that unique
The new UCG history had begun.
Today, Ergo Exergy participates in commercial projects based
on εUCG™ technology, which
are currently at various stages of development in several
regions throughout the world, including South Africa, Australia,
the USA, Pakistan, New Zealand, India and Europe. These projects
target power generation in IGCC and co-firing configurations,
replacement of natural gas as fuel for power plants and production
of synthetic liquid fuels, fertilizers, and synthetic methane.
Please read more about Ergo Exergy's projects in the respective