Coal is by far the most commonly employed fuel for electrical power generation around the world. While combustion could be the route for coal utilization for high grade coals, gasification becomes the preferred process for low grade coals having higher composition of volatiles or ash. Indian coals suffer from high ash content-nearly 50% by weight in some cases. Instead of transporting such high ash coals, it is more energy efficient to gasify the coal and transport the product syngas. Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants and Underground Gasification of coal have become attractive technologies for the best utilization of high ash coals. Gasification could be achieved in fixed beds, fluidized beds and entrained beds; faster rates of gasification are possible in fluidized beds and entrained flow systems, because of the small particle sizes and higher gas velocities. The media employed for gasification could involve air/oxygen and steam. Use of oxygen will yield relatively higher calorific value syngas because of the absence of nitrogen. Sequestration of the carbon dioxide after the combustion of the syngas is also easier, if oxygen is used for gasification. Addition of steam can increase hydrogen yield in the syngas and thereby increase the calorific value also. Gasification in the presence of suitable catalysts can increase the composition of methane in the product gas. Several competing heterogenous and homogenous reactions occur during coal major heterogenous reaction pathways, while interactions between carbon monoxide, oxygen, hydrogen, water vapour, methane and carbon dioxide result in several simultaneous gas-phase (homogenous) reactions. The overall product composition of the coal gasification process depends on the input reactant composition, particle size and type of gasifier, and pressure and temperature of the gasifier. The use of catalysts can also selectively change the product composition. At IIT Madras, over the last one decade, both experimental and modelling work has been undertaken to investigate the gasification characteristics of high ash Indian coals and compare the yield with those of high grade Australian and Japanese coals. A 20 kW capacity entrained flow gasifier has been constructed and the gasification characteristics have been studied for Indian coals for different particle sizes, system pressures and air flow rates. The theoretical model incorporates the effects of Knudsen diffusion, devolatilization and various heterogenous and homogenous kinetic steps as well as two-phase flow interactions involving the gaseous and particle phases. Output parameters such as carbon conversion, cold gas efficiency and syngas composition have been compared for different grades of coals under a wide range of operating conditions. The model developed for the entrained flow gasifier predicts the gasification characteristics of both Indian and foreign coals well. Apart from the entrained flow gasifier, a bubbling bed gasifier of 100 kW capacity has also been studied. A pilot plant for the gasification of Indian coals has been set up for this capacity and its performance has been investigated experimentally as well as theoretically at different air and steam flow rates. Carbon conversion efficiency of more than 80% has been achieved. © Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd.