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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 11

I The Present Energy Economy

II Australian Energy Consumption

III Research And Development

IV Coal

V Oil And Natural Gas

VI Solar Energy

VII Nuclear Energy

VIII Bagasse Firewood And Other Biomass

IX Electric Power Generation And Distribution electric Power Generation And Distribution

X Manufactured Gas
i Early technology
ii The new technology
iii Liquefied natural gas

XI Industrial Process Heat



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The new technology

Shortages of New South Wales coal throughout the 1940s prompted the Victorian Government to initiate the first major departure from black coal as the primary gas industry feedstock. The State-controlled Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria was formed in 1950 and charged with the specific goal of constructing a brown coal gasification plant at Morwell based on the German Lurgi process. This plant was successfully commissioned in 1956. The associated high pressure gas pipeline to Melbourne, constructed by the Corporation, was the first such project in Australia.

Even as the Lurgi plant was being built in Victoria, however, four oil refineries were established in Australia as a result of the post-war policy of the international oil industry to refine at the point of use, rather than at the source of the crude oil. This development was of great significance to the gas industry world-wide. In Australia the advent of local refining made available a number of refinery by-products which were eminently suitable as gas making raw material.

Refinery gas, otherwise flared, was purchased by the Australian gas industry and was used initially to enrich water gas and thereby avoid the use of carburetting oil. As well, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and heavy oil from the refineries was utilised by the major Australian gasworks. Gas blending became a crucial area of gas production. In order to provide a supply of constant quality gas with correct and non-variable combustion characteristics, calorimeters, flow-meters and density meters operated on each gas stream.

In Victoria these oil industry by-products undermined the economics, though not the technology, of the Morwell Lurgi plant. In many parts of Australia the gas industry during the 1950s and early 1960s turned increasingly towards gas manufacturing plant fuelled by raw materials supplied from the oil industry.

The future of the gas industry in Australia was determined by a sequence of natural gas discoveries in the 1960s: Roma in 1960; Moonie in 1961; Gidgealpa in 1963; Mereenie in 1964 and Bass Strait in 1965. The gas industry in the space of a decade switched from gas production to gas marketing and gas pipelining. Today the major long-term goal of the industry is a national gas grid tied in to the immense natural gas reserves of the North West Shelf in Western Australia.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria

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© 1988 Print Edition page 840, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher