TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – New York-listed Consol Energy on Monday said it would donate the use of three coal-bed methane wells in a pilot study to be conducted by the Virginia Centre for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, and funded by the US Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
The project is one of the carbon storage alternatives being explored by the NETL and would test the potential of unmineable coal seams to store carbon dioxide (CO2).
Using three coal-bed methane wells donated by Consol’s CNX Gas Virginia operations, plans are to inject and store up to 20 000 t of CO2 into underlying coal seams at the identified site this fall.
CO2 is a naturally occurring, odourless, colourless atmospheric gas. It is exhaled every time we breathe and one of its common uses is in the carbonation of drinks, including sodas.
The injection would be performed during a one-year period and builds on a recently completed 1 000 t injection test that took place in neighbouring Russell County, in 2009. CNX Gas, VCCER and NETL also participated in that test.
The plan is to monitor the injected CO2 to allow understanding of the feasibility of CO2 storage in unmineable coal seams and to explore the potential for enhanced coal-bed methane recovery.
It is expected that the coal seam would adsorb the CO2 and potentially release even more methane for collection and use, as occurred in the smaller-scale test in Russell County. The current test is part of a larger effort funded by NETL for carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) projects.
CCUS is the process of capturing CO2 from large stationary sources, such as power plants, using that CO2 to produce more oil or natural gas from an existing field and simultaneously storing the CO2 in a way that prevents its release into the atmosphere.
"The research will test the ability to inject CO2 into coal seams that cannot be mined, as well as the potential to enhance coal-bed methane recovery," VCCER director Dr Michael Karmis said.
"The results of this test will be vital to assess the potential of geologic storage in Appalachian coal seams as a safe and permanent method to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions, while enhancing coal-bed methane recovery," Karmis explained.