Gas from Depleted Mines and Wells: More than the US Consumes!
Rich resources of coal and oil lie unutilised in "depleted" mines and wells, just waiting for a clever technology to come and get them. Luca Technologies is one company in possession of a technology which it feels is ready to "go where men dare not go", to retrieve these significant "left behind" energy resources. The Luca approach uses anaerobic bacteria which convert the in situ hydrocarbons into methane gas, which can be easily retrieved.
Once Luca identifies a depleting area or well as a natural gas farming candidate, it withdraws water from the well transfers it to a mobile nutrient module to replenish essential vitamins and nutrients vital to sustaining microbial community health. The water is then recycled back into the well through existing infrastructure and the mobile nutrient module is moved to other wells to provide nourishment to new subsurface habitats. For a complete list of materials and concentrations in Luca's nutrient mix, click here.
Luca then temporarily shuts in the well for an average of one month to allow natural microbial populations to flourish. During this "dwell" period, activated microbes begin producing significant amounts of natural gas. Luca harvests the natural gas using the existing infrastructure. This cycle of restoration and harvesting enables Luca to produce natural gas from depleting wells for decades. _LucaTechnologies_via_BrianWestenhaus
Unlike the oil and gas industry’s extraction methods in which production peaks then steeply declines as stored hydrocarbons are depleted, Luca “gas farms” can reliably produce low-cost clean energy for decades and reuse existing wells and infrastructure to create, extract and transport the natural gas.
How big a deal could this be? Pfeiffer explains, “Farming” natural gas from depleted wells in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana alone could produce more gas than the annual consumption in the U.S., said Pfeiffer. Microbes have converted one-hundredth of 1 percent of the coal into methane in existing wells. Luca has reached 3 percent conversion in its labs, which would not happen in actual wells but it reflects the potential of the process. _NewEnergyandFuel
Most forms of in situ coal gasification involve combustion -- or superheated air -- as in this approach to gasifying shale oil kerogen rock. But low temperature anaerobic gasification is somewhat safer and more controllable than underground combustion methods.
In situ gasification in all its many forms is likely to acquire greater prominence in the energy scheme. Engineers are developing better means for in situ gasification of oil sands, oil shales, coal, and other dense hydrocarbons. In addition -- as mentioned above -- various means of retrieving the hydrocarbons from "depleted" oil wells will include different types of in situ gasification among the mix -- after retrieving as much liquid crude as possible using more conventional methods.
Around the world, vast amounts of hydrocarbons are sitting and waiting for the best retrieval technologies that humans can devise. Rich deposits which were too expensive for yesterday's technologies are coming within reach of today's technologies. The same will be true tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow.
Peak oil religionists are steeped in technologies of the past to the point that they are reduced to sensing the world with their gluteals, rather than their eyes.