Coal Bed Methane [CBM] - Sweet Gas

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 31, 2022, 11:52

Coal Bed Methane (CBM), Coal Bed Gas, Coal Seam Gas (CSG), or Coal-Mine Methane (CMM) is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. It has become an essential energy source in the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries in recent decades.

Coal Bed Methane - Overview

Coal Bed Methane refers to methane that is adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is also called 'Sweet Gas' because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known for its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk.

The process of anaerobic methane fermentation forms Coal Bed Methane. The presence of organic carbon and a depleted subsurface oxygen regime within the coal formation provides the low-oxygen condition necessary to produce methane gas from the organic matter within the coal bed.

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Coal Bed Methane Extraction Procedures

Coal Bed Methane (CBM) or coal bed gas is methane adsorbed into the organic matrix of coal seams. The amount of adsorption varies with rank, depth, and type of coal seams. It is a form of natural gas that originates in an unconventional reservoir instead of conventional reservoirs such as sandstone or carbonate.

There are a variety of methods for recovering the gas, depending on geological conditions and the desired volume of production.

Induced creation involves pumping fluid underground through boreholes to force out remaining trapped gas, while conventional recovery extracts the gas from natural capillary action using vertical or horizontal bores.

Methane has a wide variety of applications, including for the generation of electricity and heat, and as portable heating fuel. This gas can be extracted from the coal by drilling wells into a coal seam and then fracturing the seam using water and chemicals.

Factors for Production of Coal Bed Methane

CBM production rose dramatically during the 1990s and 2000s due to increased environmental awareness. It led to a more stringent regulation of emissions at coal mines and new drilling technologies (horizontal drilling), which allowed better access to previously unreachable reserves.

The relatively recent increase in production has led to increasing research on the extraction of CBM, including the use of horizontal drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing. Recovering CBM includes dewatering the coal seam and hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

Over the last few years, there has been a significant inflow of investment money in this sector. It suggests that investors think that the Coal Bed Methane industry has not reached its fullest potential and will experience growth in the next few years. Investors also seem to be unworried by environmentalist concerns about this alternative resource.

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FAQs on Coal Bed Methane

Q.1. What is Coal Bed Methane?

Coal Bed Methane is a form of natural gas extracted from coal beds. In recent decades it has become an essential energy source in the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries. The term refers to methane adsorbed into the solid matrix of the coal. It is called 'Sweet Gas' because of its lack of hydrogen sulfide. The presence of this gas is well known for its occurrence in underground coal mining, where it presents a serious safety risk.

Q.2. Can Coal Bed Methane be used as a source of energy?

Coal and coal seams often contain a significant amount of methane, either being released into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas or extracted and used as an energy source. The Australian Government defines Coal Bed Methane as 'methane typically found within coal seams and other coal-bearing strata'. The methane is adsorbed onto the surface of the coal by weak forces between the molecules.

Q.3. What is Coal Bed Methane, also called?

Coal Bed Methane is called coalbed gas, coal seam gas (CSG), or coal-mine methane (CMM).

Q.4. Why is Coal Bed Methane called a Sweet Gas?

The main component of natural gas is typically found in coal seams. Coal Bed Methane is also known as 'Sweet Gas' because of its lack of odour.