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Non-conventional Energy

Natural Gas from coal

Natural gas from coal (NGC), also known as coalbed methane (CBM), is simply the natural gas formed and trapped in coalbeds. NGC is generated during the coalification process that transforms organic material such as peat bogs into coal.

In coal seams, the methane can occur as "dry" gas or be associated with saltwater or freshwater. The most common production method uses wells drilled into the naturally fractured coal seams. Dry gas can be produced like conventional natural gas. If the gas is associated with water, the wells initially remove water from the coal, but eventually methane is freed from the coal as the pressure and surface tension are lowered. The disadvantage is the long time period before significant gas production begins and the need to dispose of the water, usually by injection into deep wells beneath existing groundwater aquifiers. Researchers are investigating other means of freeing the methane from the coal, including the injection of carbon dioxide (ECBM), which could also provide a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Versatility is the hallmark of natural gas. It is the leading source of heat for homes and business around the world. Generating electricity from natural gas is one of the fastest-growing uses of this clean-burning fuel. Natural gas is widely used for manufacturing. It is vitally important in making cement, processing forest products and manufacturing steel. Natural gas is a key raw material in the fertilizer and petrochemical industries and provides energy and hydrogen for the production of synthetic crude oil from oil sands bitumen.

Natural gas liquids - ethane, propane, butane and condensates (pentanes and heavier hydrocarbons) produces along with natural gas - are used as fuels for heating and motor vehicles, and are a primary source of methane and feedstocks for petrochemicals and oil refining.