Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is partnering with China United Coalbed Methane Corporation Ltd. (CUCBM) on a $10 million joint demonstration project that will store 2000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) underground in the Shanxi Province and extract methane for use as an energy source. The project will focus on advancing enhanced coal-bed methane (ECBM) recovery, and providing a pathway to adoption for near zero emissions technology from coal-fired power.

ECBM involves the injection of CO2 into coal seams to displace methane that can be used to generate energy, while providing the additional benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by storing the CO2 underground.

Director of CSIRO's Advanced Coal Technology research, Dr. John Carras, says the ECBM project will trial new approaches to maximize CO2 injection and methane recovery.

"ECBM wells are typically drilled vertically to inject CO2 into coal seams, but this demonstration project will drill horizontally, meaning the entry point of the well is more directly embedded in the coal seam, which we predict will increase the flow rate of CO2 for underground storage," Carras says. "CUCBM's expertise in drilling practices and methane extraction will combine with CSIRO's capabilities in coal characterization, reservoir modeling, carbon dioxide monitoring and storage assurance to develop techniques that maximize both CO2 storage and methane recovery rates."

CSIRO's research is supported by the Japan Coal Energy Centre, JCOAL, and this ECBM project received funding from the Chinese and Australian Governments as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. CSIRO's work with CUCBM addresses issues of low emission energy supply, climate change and emissions reduction on a global scale.

"Working with our partners in China will allow CSIRO to increase its capabilities in pilot-scale demonstrations for carbon capture and storage technologies," Carras says. "This experience will inform the development of a low emissions coal technology that can also be deployed in Australia."