Alternative energy resources, mitigation of the environmental impact, through methane extraction in the Mecsek Mountains coal seams

The alternative energy resources like the coalbed methane (CBM) have rising importance world-wide due to the depletion of fossil resources and increase of prices. Its extraction is now reached industrial scale. The classical CBM extraction method is co-production of methane gas and groundwater. Better efficiency (>50 %) can be achieved with new innovative methods, like the CO2-ECBM (methane gas production from coal seams enhanced by CO2 injection) which is near to commercial scale application in the USA and Canada. A version of this method is injection of flue gas emitted by power plants, the CO2 component of the gas remains underground absorbed to the coal, and drives the methane out from the coal structure into the cleat system. Thus fossil energy production can be coupled by sequestration of a greenhouse gas. We plan tests to adapt this process in the abandoned stopes and virgin coal complexes of the Mecsek coal field using flue gas derived from the Pecs thermal power plant in Hungary. In Hungary this will be the first CO2 sequestration test site. This coal field is the largest hard coal complex of the country, with coal resource of 980 million tonnes, and recoverable gas resource of about 28,5 billion cu.m. The Rotaqua Ltd., GreenLab Ltd., Pannon Thermal Power Plant ZRt., University of Miskolc and ELGI participate in the consortium. The micro-pilot approach will be used, i.e. initial flue gas injection and later methane gas production in the same hole. Two test boreholes will be made in the first stage. The tests serve as starting point for more elaborated multi-hole pilot tests. Upon the success of this project a pilot stage is planned where the CO2 content of the flue gas is sequestered, resulting in significant methane extraction. This corresponds to Hungary's undertaking under the Kyoto Protocol, and is in line with the air pollution prevention programme of the European Union. The project is managed by the Rotaqua Ltd, national R+D grants are also being sought for the basic and applied research stages of the programme.

Location map of the test site, the numbered polygons are the methane exploration blocks