Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Resources Program)
Enhancing Appalachian Coalbed Methane Extraction by Microwave-Induced Fractures
Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16802
Nottingham University, Nottingham, England
This research (Enhancing Appalachian Coalbed Methane Extraction by Microwave-Induced Fractures) will evaluate if it is possible to generate new fractures and enhance existing cleats (aperture or length) by exposing coal to short exposures (seconds duration) of microwave energy under in situ stress conditions of coalbeds. It is known that microwaves can, in the absence of confining pressure, fracture coal. The approach has been used to reduce the energy required for pulverization. Our aim is to determine if microwave-induced fractures can be generated when the coal is under stress and if they will significantly enhance permeability. The existing and induced fractures will be evaluated at high resolution in 3 dimensions with an industrial X-ray facility. The cleats aperture will be calibrated with optical microscopy and the cleat surfaces (roughness) by optical profile techniques. By creating new cleats/fractures, lengthening or widening existing cleats, the permeability and hence methane gas flow will increase. The permeability increase to methane will be evaluated on an Appalachian bituminous coal core.
Impact and Benefits:
Better coalbed or coalmine methane drainage technologies could save lives, enhance domestic coalbed methane production, and reduce coalbed methane emissions that contribute to climate change. Such an approach may also prove favorable to increasing the rate of CO2 injection for enhanced coalbed methane extraction.
Principal Investigator: Jonathan P. Mathews