Mining Publication: Measuring the Methane Content of Bituminous Coalbeds
The methane content of virgin bituminous coalbed can now be measured accurately in the field with exploration core samples from vertical boreholes. The gas content of the coal per unit weight can be used either to design a mine ventilation system or to determine if degasification of the coalbed will be necessary before mining, and to determine the gas resources in the coalbed. The equipment necessary to conduct the test costs less than $50. The gas content of the coal in place in the ground is determined by summing the gas lost from coring, gas measured during desorption, and the residual gas in the coal. Upon removal from the borehole, the core sample is placed in an airtight container and desorbed for several weeks until the desorption rate is below 0.05 cm3/g for 5 consecutive days. The gas lost from the core while it was being cored and the residual gas are estimated by a new graphical method. The amount of gas remaining depends upon whether the coal is friable or blocky. Friability appears to relate to the depth of the sample below the surface, fixed carbon percentage, Hardgrove grindability index, and proximity to tectonic disturbance. Friable coals emit nearly 96 pct of the total gas during desorption whereas a blocky coal emits only 60 pct of its total gas. Coalbeds that are ill defined as to their blocky or friable nature must be tested in the laboratory for unambiguous analysis.