Biogenic methanogenesis and biodegradation of organic matter in coals

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Aug 1, 2014 Jul 31, 2016 All Counties
Director: Maria Mastalerz
Other Researchers: Flynn Picardal, Simon Brassell, Jack Gilbert
Funding: National Science Foundation
Issue: This project is dominantly experimental work of microbial gas generation from coal and includes geochemical and microbiological analysis of coal and gas.
Objective: This collaborative research evaluates fundamental biogeochemical processes associated with microbial degradation of organic matter (OM) during generation of methane in coals. The overall goal is to understand the substrates that sustain microbial transformations of OM in coal beds, the nature of involved chemical pathways and effect of varying electron acceptor condition, and the role of these processes in the generation of coalbed methane (CBM).
Approach: Series of lab experiments are being conducted, they are examining: 1) efficacy of using ground coal versus dichloromethane or methanol solvent-extracted coal OM in reactors to evaluate the importance of coal surfaces in methanogenesis versus solely the extracted OM, (2) hypothesis that the organic matter associated with vitrinite leads to increased methanogenesis, (3) if lower sulfate concentration leads to increased methane production rather than complete oxidation of coal OM to carbon dioxide.
Products: An, T. T., and Picardal, F. W. (2015). Desulfuromonas carbonis sp. nov., an Fe(III)-, So-, and Mn(IV)-reducing bacterium isolated from an active coalbed methane gas well. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (in press).
Benefits: This project will provide better understanding of biogenic methanogenesis and biodegradation of organic matter in coals.