Find Out How Old UCG Technology Really Is, and Who Created It

Over the last few years, increasing oil prices have had the public curious about whether this is the only way to fuel their cars. Considering all the technology available today, one would think at least one oil-deprived country would come up with an alternative way to get gasoline. Few people are happy with the costs and hassle of having to import oil from other countries, except perhaps the oil owners themselves. Therefore, there is plenty of motive to develop an alternative fuel source. What many members of the public do not understand is that there are plenty of ideas floating around, a few of which actually make sense. Underground coal gasification, or UCG, could be exactly what we need.

UCG is as natural as it gets, combining our natural resources, like coal, with smart technology. The process begins with two wells being drilled into the surface above the coal, referred to as the coal seam. Air gets pumped in through the first well, and the coal is ignited until it reaches extremely high temperatures. This heat creates a mixture of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide and methane. Oxidants are introduced through the first well, guiding this new synthesis gas, or syngas, out through the second well. The final step is for the syngas to be filtered to create clean fuel, absent of any impurities like carbon dioxide or sulfur.

Any issues the UCG process might possess have been worked out by its creators. For example, some environmentalists are concerned about the carbon dioxide that the UCG procedure creates. There is no need to worry, however, as proponents of the process ensure that the substance will never touch the atmosphere. This is because the UCG process creates a cavity under the surface where the solid coal once lay, and since it is now empty, it is the perfect spot for carbon dioxide storage. The gas is filtered before it is introduced to the surface, so a crisis can be averted by the simple fact that the process takes place underground. This probably sounds great, but one might wonder who the creators of UCG are.

The idea of UCG has been around since the late 19th century, when Sir William Siemens assumed that the process could eliminate any waste or unusable coal. Dmitri Mendeleyev, a Russian chemist, ran with the idea, and soon experiments were being performed in the early 20th century in the UK, under the watchful eye of Sir William Ramsay. World Wars I and II effectively shut down any further research with UCG, though the USSR’s Stalin initiated funding during that time for experimentation with the process. Though World War II did delay more research, at the end of it the Soviets were once again experimenting with UCG, leading to 14 underground coal gasification plants by the 1960s.

When few people understand a unique idea, but they see a need for it, they often continue to look into it. However, when they neither understand it nor see a need for it, they often ignore it or shut it down. Though scientists had made great progress with UCG by the 1960s, at that time, there was no energy crisis like there had been directly after World War II. Oil prices were low, as there was an abundance of it, so interest in an alternative energy source waned in Europe. However, the US wanted its turn with UCG, and worked into the 1970s and 1980s with field testing.

By 1989, the UK, Belgium, and Spain all decided to participate in trials that would either prove or disprove the commercial viability of UCG. Despite the interest of these countries, China actually has the largest program, which consists of 16 trials. The country to play a large part in UCG development most recently is Australia, which boasted the successful underground gasification of 35,000 tons of coal between the years 1999 and 2003, with no environmental repercussions.

Clearly several large countries have expressed either a renewed or brand new interest in the technology behind UCG. However, just because some countries are finally joining the interest does not make UCG a new idea. This alternative method of obtaining energy has been around for over a hundred years, passing various tests and milestones. It’s just about time that the rest of the world caught on to this unique, viable method of obtaining clean fuel.

Nostalgia? Returning to More Natural, Biological Technology in Farming

Farming methods may to modern eyes seem to have once been more natural but are we being romantic and nostalgic?

A great website that traces the history of the countryside and agriculture – ukagriculture.com – is an easily digested history of UK population and economic developments and their impact on farming from the days of Saxon England onwards.

One small example is the fluctuation in the country’s woodland from approximately 11% woodland cover during the Roman period (100AD) to 15% in Norman era. It was down to around 7% by 1350AD, even less than today, and then climbed to a broadly stable 10% while the total length of hedgerow continued to grow as more fields were enclosed.

Meanwhile there was from very early times an inexorable drift of population from the countryside to the towns and cities, which accelerated after c1750 and the onset of the industrial revolution.

Two more significant moments in history are the Second World War with the need to increase domestic food production and then, fuelled by a rural labour shortage, the development of the combined harvester.

Add in population growth, the search for profit and the need to increase food production and the result is so-called agribusiness, getting rid of the hedges that used to enclose our fields and the woodland that got in the way of the big machines that allegedly made farming more efficient.

It’s pretty clear, therefore, that producing food – farming – has always been driven by economics and by population changes.

So while in the past there may have been a better balance in the way farmland was used thinking nostalgically is something of a red herring. Farming is now and historically always has been a commercial activity.

Urban population growth and production costs are the twin pressures to produce more from the same amount of land, especially on an island like Britain. They led in the 1960s and 70s to using more and more chemicals to get rid of pests and diseases and to increase yield per acre.

Then came the wake-up calls: the BSE and other scares, tales of hormones in our chickens, increasing evidence of chemical-induced carcinomas from our food.

A couple of decades on and we no longer tolerate damage to people’s health from chemicals in our food, or the threatened destruction of the environmental balance on which we all depend for life.

The growth in global communications and in global travel have also opened people’s eyes to inequalities in both food production and people’s access to enough food.

It’s becoming urgent that we balance the need for more food against the imperative to preserve the quality of the land it comes from. It’s commonsense, it’s not about nostalgia.

That’s why the growing emphasis on sustained farming, organic and more natural agriculture and on biological agricultural products like biopesticides and biological yield enhancers that could arguably be as crucial to the small developing-world farmer as they are to bigger operations in the developed world.

It’s about trying all kinds of things appropriate to the local ecology – as illustrated by this story about Zambian farmer Elleman Mumba a 54-year-old peasant farmer growing maize and groundnuts on his small plot of land in Shimabala, south of Lusaka.

Feeding his family used to be a problem and the yield was very little. “We were always looking for hand-outs; we had to rely on relief food.”

With no oxen of his own to plough his field he had to wait in line to hire some, often missing planting as soon as the first rains fell. for every day of delay the potential yield is shrunk by around 1% – 2%.

In 1997, Mr Mumba, thanks to free training given to his wife, switched to conservation farming. It uses only simple technology, a special kind of hoe and Instead of ploughing entire fields, farmers till and plant in evenly spaced basins.

Only a tenth of the land area is disturbed. it reduces erosion and run-off and in the first season increased his yield to 68 bags of maize – enough to feed the family and buy four cattle! (his full story is on the BBC Africa website)

That’s what innovation, sustainable farming and thinking outside the box are all about. It’s about economics and what works, not about nostalgia.

Characteristics of Modern Media Technology

Media has evolved a lot. Modern media depends on Technology to send information or gather them at a faster speed. The following are the characteristics:  

Speed: The information reaches at a faster speed.     

Reach: The information must have mass reach.  

Preventing Calamities: Modern media broadcasts 24 hours. So high technology is used to beat natural calamities.     

Constant Transmission: Technology is used for constant transmission.  

The following tools of technology is used to achieve the aforesaid targets:  

 

Use of Satellites: Satellite Technology is used to ensure constant transmission. A satellite hardly  gets affected by climatic conditions.     

Use of Video Conferencing: It is used to get live and personalized feedback without physical presence.  

Use of Television Conferencing: It is used to get audio inputs from far off places.  

Use of Internet: Internet is being relied upon for information.  

Use of high end Computer Technology: Computing and high speed processors are used for fast and able data processing.  

Use of Mobile Satellite Vans for News Coverage: Satellite vans are used for high mobility and anytime coverage.    

Use of high end Audio visual equipments: Use of high end audio visual equipments have emerged that leads to clear sound and picture. Tape recorders and high end video cameras are used by media persons to take interviews fast and transmit news ina proper and efficient manner.    

Thus these are the characteristics of Modern Media Technology that has made media more fast, accurate and improved and has made it an indispensable tool for protecting the  largest democracy of the world named India by making it more transparent and accountable to people. Hence these are the characteristics of modern media technology.