New Technology to "Farm" Methane for Natural Gas
Luca Technologies, a start-up company whose aim is to produce cleaner fossil fuels, has developed a new process with which it plans to "farm" energy from existing coal bed methane wells. Naturally occurring bacteria in methane wells digest coal and release methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, as a byproduct. Luca capitalizes on this process by injecting water filled with microbes and nutrients into these wells to "feed" the bacteria, getting them to digest more coal and create more methane, which the company then captures to be burned as energy.
Luca, which is based in Golden, Colorado, is already extracting energy from the 1,350 depleted coal bed methane wells it has purchased in the Powder River basin in Wyoming, and is pursuing permits to expand its operations in both Wyoming and neighboring Montana. While the company is not yet profitable, its CEO, Robert Pfeiffer, states that this is due to its continued investment in developing and perfecting its new technology. Individual wells, however, have been profitable. Pfeiffer claims that, using Luca Technologies' new process, enough natural gas could be harvested from depleted coal bed methane wells in the Powder River Basin to fully meet the country's demand for natural gas.