Optimization, Scale-up, and Design of Coal-Dependent Methanogenesis in Preparation for In Situ Field Demonstration


High-pressure column reactors to test<br/>bio-stimulated, coal-dependent methanogenesis<br/>with native coal, water, and microorganisms.
High-pressure column reactors to test
bio-stimulated, coal-dependent methanogenesis
with native coal, water, and microorganisms.
Montana State University
Website:  Montana State University
Award Number:  FE0026155
Project Duration:  10/01/2015 – 09/30/2018
Total Award Value:  $812,500
DOE Share:  $650,000
Performer Share:  $162,500
Technology Area:  Gasification Systems
Key Technology:  Site Specific Coal Conversion
Location:  Bozeman, Montana

Project Description

Montana State University (MSU) will lead a team including the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Montana Emergent Technologies, and Shell Global Solutions International BV to advance the maturity of coal bio-gasification technologies for use in future field tests. Achieving this goal will enable microbially enhanced coal bed methane processes to accelerate traditional coal bed methane production. The project will involve laboratory experiments and optimization, and the design of an in situ biologically enhanced coal conversion test protocol in order to prepare for a coal bio-conversion test in the field. The project will focus on a target field site (the Birney Test Site already under development by USGS) in the Powder River Basin where drilling, coring, and hydrologic tests have already been conducted and which provides relevant engineering data for the field test design. Activities include characterization of existing samples of formation water, coal, and microbial communities extracted from coal surfaces in the target field site and analysis of data from previous bench-scale experiments to determine biogenic methane production rates with various stimulants. A bench-scale pressure vessel will be used for stimulant injection, conducting tests under subsurface temperature and pressure conditions, and determining the scaling dependence of biogenic methane production rates on coal samples. The team will produce a complete site characterization, a field test design, and conduct a preliminary economic analysis and commercial feasibility study. The project is a continuation of prior work and collaboration among team members on DE-FE0024068.

Project Benefits

This MSU team's project will enable significant progress toward microbial coal conversion to natural gas. The project will provide mechanisms for the use of existing infrastructure at existing coal bed facilities that will optimize the rate of bio-genic methane production and enhance the longevity of individual wells by contributing to the development of a commercially competitive process. The data will provide valuable parameter constraints to help test the feasibility of commercially competitive in situ coal to gas conversion processes.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Diane Revay Madden: diane.madden@netl.doe.gov
Technology Manager 
K David Lyons: k.lyons@netl.doe.gov
Principal Investigator 
Matthew Fields: matthew.fields@erc.montana.edu

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