Forging a public, private and academic partnership

The University of Newcastle (UoN) wanted to partner with the private sector to deliver an innovation project that will potentially change the way gas emissions from coal mines can be captured. The University’s Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) forged a partnership with BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal, Glencore Coal (NSW), ACALET, ICD Asia Pacific and APP Corporation to deliver the project.

The capture and use of Ventilation Air Methane (VAM) abatement is considered the most effective means of mitigating fugitive methane emissions from coal mining. This world-first initiative seeks to decrease methane emissions from underground coal mining operations by up to 90% and reduce Australia’s annual greenhouse output by up to 3%.

From lab prototype to full-scale operating plant

Together with APP Corporation, ICD were instrumental in taking the design from a pilot scale laboratory prototype model to a fully engineered full-scale site-based operating plant.

ICD performed all design engineering for the project, Broadspectrum were the principal contractor and APP were responsible for identifying and negotiating the site for construction of the large-scale duct and delivery. The project aims to determine key underlying science and engineering issues that underpin the safe operation of the VAM capture duct, as this component plays a central role in the safe introduction of any VAM abatement technology into a coal mine.

The industrial scale VAM capture duct is capable of recording the properties of VAM explosions and demonstrating the effectiveness of new and existing protective devices and strategies.

This unique project has been achieved through collaboration of industry, government and academia to address issues of global importance. The project is led by UoN Researcher Professor Behdad Moghtaderi and his Frontier Energy Technologies (FET) Group, who are leading experts in the field of Clean Energy Research.

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