Written By: John Shimkus
More and more it seems like the biggest breakthroughs in energy technology are coming from the smallest places, namely bacteria and other microorganisms. Researchers have discovered a plethora of naturally occurring bacterial microbes in coal deposits that are responsible for breaking the carbon fossil fuel down into methane gas. Researchers believe that by isolating the bacterial strains and promoting their regeneration in abandoned coalmines and methane well sites, the coal deposits left behind could once again produce methane gas, revitalizing the sites and possibly turning a profit.
Luca Technologies and Ciris Energy are spearheading the initiative in the coal-rich mountains of Wyoming (USA), where several abandoned mines and methane well sites are already in existence. The benefit of the well-reactivation program is that there is less infrastructure investment outright since the wells have already been drilled. "Once you figure out the recipe that feeds the bugs and gets them reactivated, it's pretty simple," said Bob Cavnar, chief executive of Luca Technologies. Ideally, the companies believe that abandoned well sites could double or even triple gas production when activated with the bacteria.