Coalbed methane regeneration is of increasing interest, and is gaining global attention with respect to enhancement of gas recovery. The objective of this study is to determine if there are differences in methanogen nucleic acid sequences associated with low rank coals from the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, in comparison with sequences that can be recovered from coal bed-associated produced waters. Based on results obtained to date, the sequences from the coals appear to be associated with putatively deep-rooted thermophilic autotrophic methanogens, whereas the sequences from the waters are associated with thermophilic autotrophic and heterotrophic methanogens. The recovered sequences associated with coal thus appear to be both phylogenetically and functionally distinct from those that are more closely associated with the produced water. To be able to relate such recovered sequences to organisms that might be present and possibly active in these environments, it is suggested that direct observation, followed by isolation and single cell-based physiological/molecular analyses, be used to characterize methanogenic consortia possibly associated with coals and/or produced waters. It is also important to characterize the microenvironment where these microbes might be found, in both ecological and geological contexts, to be able to develop effective, ecologically relevant coalbed methane regeneration processes.
Additional publication details
Molecular sequences derived from Paleocene Fort Union Formation coals vs. associated produced waters: Implications for CBM regeneration