The Key to Harvesting Natural Gas from Coal Beds May Be in Microbial Poop

We often hear about "unconventional" oil and gas when fracking shale deposits is discussed.  But when it comes to unconventional natural gas development, this story is on top.

From Technology Review:
Fracking technology has already made it practical to exploit previously inaccessible natural gas and oil in the United States (see "Natural Gas Changes the Energy Map"). Now several companies are demonstrating a way to use micro├Ârganisms that eat coal and excrete methane—the main ingredient in natural gas—as a possible means of extracting fuel from coal resources that had been too expensive to mine.
Many coal beds contain large amounts of methane that can be harvested by drilling wells. In recent decades, researchers have demonstrated that a large fraction of the natural gas found in the coal beds is produced by naturally occurring micro├Ârganisms that feed on coal, and they have found ways to stimulate the microbes to produce more methane. Luca Technologies, based in Golden, Colorado, is using this approach to increase production from coal beds with existing methane wells. Another company, Next Fuel, based in Sheridan, Wyoming, recently showed that it could use similar technology to produce methane from coal beds that didn't already have methane in them, raising the possibility that vast amounts of coal that's currently too expensive to mine could be converted into natural gas.
Read the rest of this interesting article by clicking here.

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