Bioscience

Bacteria turn coal and oil into renewable energy

June 22, 2010

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Discovery News] – Something amazing is happening in the Wilcox formation, a coal-bearing stretch of bedrock beneath central Louisiana. Bacteria that naturally feast on carbon dioxide (CO2) and coal in the presence of water are working overtime, producing natural gas (CH4; methane) as a byproduct.

Why is this so special? The CO2 isn’t naturally occurring. In the 1980’s an oil company working in the area injected it into a deep underground well in an effort to push out more petroleum. The well was later abandoned. But since then microbes have been busy taking our waste CO2, some hydrogen atoms out of the coal beds, and a few other nutrients and turning the lot into a fuel we can burn for energy.

For more information: Bacteria Turn Coal and Oil Into Renewable Energy