Mining Publication: Experimental Studies on the Origin and Accumulation of Coalbed Gas
The Bureau of Mines investigated factors that influence the formation of methane and other hydrocarbon gases in coal, which is an integral part of the coalification process. Coalification begins with a biogenetic stage in which plant debris decomposes and peat is formed; methane and co2 are the predominant gases produced during this stage. During the diagenetic stage of coalification hydrogen and the hydrocarbon gases methane, ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene, butene, iso- and normal butane, and pentane are formed by dissociation of the organic material. Methane may also be produced by a secondary reaction of hydrogen with unsaturates or by the reduction of co2. The gas contained in coalbeds is a mixture of methane, C2 through C5 alkanes, CO2, O2, N2, H2, and He; its heating value is equivalent to that of natural gas. The gas content of coal depends on many variables, but an empirical relationship between adsorptive capacity, rank, and depth has been observed.