Increasing the Rate and Extent of Microbial Coal to Methane Conversion through Optimization of Microbial Activity, Thermodynamics, and Reactive Transport


Microbial Coal to Methane Conversion
Microbial Coal to Methane Conversion
Montana State University
Website:  Montana State University
Award Number:  FE0024068
Project Duration:  10/01/2014 – 09/30/2017
Total Award Value:  $625,000
DOE Share:  $500,000
Performer Share:  $125,000
Technology Area:  Gasification Systems
Key Technology:  Novel Technologies to Advance Conventional Gasification
Location:  Bozeman, Montana

Project Description

Montana State University will develop engineering strategies for the enhanced production of coal-bed methane (CBM) by stimulating and sustaining the microbial community responsible for methane production in coal beds. The technology will be based on the development of a thorough understanding of the microbiological, physicochemical, and engineering processes involved and necessary to develop a more sustainable CBM) production scheme. To achieve the project goal, Montana State will first determine the chemical and biological parameters limiting methane production from coal. Next, researchers will develop strategies for the optimization of microbially-enhanced coal bed methane (MECBM) technology based on thermodynamic and reactive transport considerations. Finally, scale-up of laboratory microcosms to optimize microbial coal-to-methane production in column flow reactors will be accomplished.

Project Benefits

The project entails transformational concepts and technologies to enable significant and cost-effective progress in microbial coal conversion to methane with faster and more extensive production in unmineable coal beds. Montana State’s combined approach will result in more effective and less environmentally burdensome CBM production through water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) management. The project is designed to contribute significantly towards more sustainable MECBM technology development that also incorporates CO2 utilization, H2O recycle, and nutrient recycle. Results will be used in the design of a MECBM field test currently being developed by the USGS in the Tongue River Portion of the Powder River Basin.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Steven Markovich:
Technology Manager 
K David Lyons:
Principal Investigator 
Matthew Fields:

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