Centre for Energy

Coal and Biomass

Biogas and biomass each offer new ways to harness the energy from certain materials and produce fuels, particularly for industrial and commercial purposes.

  1. Biogas – a waste to energy technology
  2. Synthetic natural gas from coal and biomass
  3. Other research areas

Biogas – a waste to energy technology

The Centre for Energy has developed a two-phase anaerobic digestion process for biogas production from green waste and animal droppings.

The biogas from this process is a rich mixture of bio-hydrogen and bio-methane produced from two separate digesters operating in series but under different conditions that optimise the output of the fuel gases respectively, and minimise the formation of carbon dioxide.

The new approach divides the overall digestion process into two phases, using both mesophilic and thermophilic strains of bacteria as bio-catalysts.

The biogas can be used for combined heat and power generation (CHAP) and supplied to nearby agricultural estates and residences. The final residues, after de-watering and sterilisation, are a high-value organic fertiliser.

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Synthetic natural gas from coal and biomass

Many parts of the world have limited access to clean, convenient natural gas for industrial and domestic applications.

In collaboration with international energy companies, the Centre for Energy is developing technologies to convert coal and biomass as well as other organic waste feedstock into synthetic natural gas (SNG).

Two processes have been developed. One uses the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process and a catalyst that favours the formation of methane, following the reaction:

CO + 3H2 = CH4 + H20
Syngas = SNG + Heat
100          80        20

The other uses a catalytic pyrolysis to convert low-rank coal and biomass directly into a methane-rich fuel gas, both with extraordinarily high conversion efficiencies.

Our catalysts have shown great activity, selectivity and durability.

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Other research areas

  • To research, develop, demonstration and deploy advanced clean coal technologies.
  • Carbon capture and storage.
  • Coal gasification (including underground coal gasification).
  • Coal and biomass to liquid.
  • Coal and biomass to synthetic natural gas.
  • Low-rank coal upgrading.
  • Coal bed methane, extraction, conversion and utilisation.
  • Thermal utilisation of biomass and other renewable energy sources.
  • Co-firing of biomass with coal in existing coal-fired power utilities.
  • Combustion technologies for synthetic fuels.
  • Identification and extraction of high value chemicals from biomass resources.

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