Methane (CH4) is becoming a dominant form of global energy. Some of this methane is trapped below the surface in coalbeds that are uneconomical to mine. Increasing the naturally occurring methane in these unminable coal seams using inexpensive techniques to encourage resident microbial activity could have a profound impact on globally available natural gas. Adjusting coalbed conditions, such as nutrient availability or coal surface area, may speed up the natural microbial coal-to-methane process. A thorough characterization of the microbial processes important to coal-to-methane conversion, followed by experimental analysis of optimal coalbed conditions, will result in a strategy to promote coalbed conditions necessary for increased methane production.
The objective of this project is to (1) increase the understanding of the microorganisms present in various coal basins (2) investigate the microbial coal-to-methane production of various coal basins and (3) test nutrient amendments to increase microbial coal-to-methane production.