Carbon sequestration may enhance gas mining

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Carbon sequestration may enhance gas mining

Postby hvpa941 » Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:57 pm

Stanford Report, July 13, 2009. Carbon sequestration may enhance energy production, Stanford researchers say

To investigate the potential of combining carbon storage with coal bed methane extraction, Ross, Hagin and Zoback generated a computer model using data from the Power River Basin of Wyoming, where there are 18,000 active coal bed methane wells and another 50,000 planned for the next decade.

In some regions where coal lies trapped below the surface, groundwater flows over and around the deposits forming fractures. Bacteria that live naturally in the water attach themselves to the coal and consume it. As they dine, the bacteria form and release methane gas as a byproduct, which then forms a film that clings to the surface of the coal. To remove the methane from the coal, industry professionals drill a well into the coal fractures and pump out the groundwater. The depressurized methane is then piped to the surface and used as natural gas.

Zoback and colleagues wanted to see what would happen if they created a computer model that sequestered CO2 while extracting the methane. “Coal adsorbs carbon dioxide more than methane,” Zoback explained. When the researchers injected carbon dioxide into a computer-generated coal bed, the coal readily adsorbed the CO2, pushing out the methane gas. What’s more, the computer model projected that 99 percent of the CO2 would stay chemically bound to the coal. After five years of production, five to eight times more methane could be extracted using carbon sequestration, according to the model.

“The idea is to think about carbon sequestration along with the development of shale gases,” Zoback said. “And with coal bed methane, doing carbon capture and storage may actually enhance coal bed methane production.”


Combining coal seam methane extraction with sequestration of CO2 carbon from power stations is nothing new. For example this paper Enhanced Coal Bed Methane Production and Sequestration of CO2 in Unmineable Coal Seams describes a pilot project of this technology.

The practical consequence for the Hunter Valley residents is that in a near future we may be putting up not only with coal mines as well as with methane gas fields but also with huge volumes of carbon dioxide stored in the ground under our feet. All that without concern for gigalitres of toxic salty water produced and without any consideration for people who live in the area. The above paper is typical of its kind - written by people who will not pay for this "progress".
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