Optimized Microbial Conversion of Bituminous Coal to Methane for In Situ and Ex Situ Applications


Proposed Pathways from Coal to Methane
Proposed Pathways from Coal to Methane
Southern Illinois University
Website:  Southern Illinois University
Award Number:  FE0024126
Project Duration:  10/01/2014 – 09/30/2017
Total Award Value:  $748,566
DOE Share:  $499,989
Performer Share:  $248,577
Technology Area:  Gasification Systems
Key Technology:  Novel Technologies to Advance Conventional Gasification
Location:  Carbondale, Illinois

Project Description

The goal of this Southern Illinois University (SIU) project is to maximize methane productivity from bituminous coal through adding a nutrient medium. To achieve this goal, SIU aims to simplify the composition of the nutrient solution used in previous studies (that showed a 50-fold higher methane production compared to that without a nutrient medium); maximize methane yield by investigating individual and interactive effects of different parameters such as coal particle size, temperature, pH, mixing, and addition of surfactants, solvents, and electron donors in microcosm setups; and investigate methane production through biological coal conversion (BCC) in a fed-batch cultivation mode. SIU will then evaluate methane yield in a dynamic bioreactor system where nutrient or other supplements can be added and methane and headspace gas can be withdrawn intermittently. Finally, methane production using established microbial consortia in pressurized reactors will be investigated.

Project Benefits

The low-cost, efficient, and highly productive nutrient medium processes developed from SIU’s project will: 1) address the challenges facing the current CBM operations in the field, which are high cost and low productivity for high rank coals; 2) contribute to the technical know-how regarding BCC of bituminous coal; 3) provide an abundant supply of natural gas; 4) enable coal to be used in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way; and 5) develop a means to utilize coal waste, thus converting a waste to a resource. Results from this research can be directly applied to either ex situ bioreactors converting mined out bituminous coal, coal wastes to methane, or used in situ to generate methane from mineable, unmineable or abandoned coal seams.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Steven Markovich: steven.markovich@netl.doe.gov
Technology Manager 
K David Lyons: k.lyons@netl.doe.gov
Principal Investigator 
Yanna Liang: liang@engr.siu.edu

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