Energy Citations Database (ECD) - - Document #5638881

We have previously reported on the efforts that have been underway in Arkansas, which utilize certain strains of bacteria, or other microorganisms, as bio-catalytic agents in the conversion of Coal into hydrocarbons.

As can be seen in: Arkansas, USBM Convert Coal to Methane | Research & Development | News; and, in:

Arkansas: Biological Coal Conversion | Research & Development | News; not only has the University of Arkansas been investigating such potentials, they have been supported in at least some of their research by the US Bureau of Mines offices and labs in Pittsburgh, PA.

Herein, via the initial link, we submit further documentation of both their bacteria-assisted Coal conversion efforts, and of the United States Department of Energy's support, and knowledge of, those efforts.


We note that the specific work represented herein is related to other, similar potentials we have reported, wherein it isn't Coal that is being directly transformed, or fermented, as it were, into hydrocarbons, but, synthesis gas made from Coal.

Comment follows excerpts from:


"Biological upgrading of coal-derived synthesis gas: Final report


Date: October, 1986


Author: S. Bank, et. al.


Research Organization: Arkansas University., Fayetteville


OSTI ID: 5638881; Report Number: DOE/MC/21011-2506; DOE Contract: AC21-84MC21011


Abstract: The technical feasibility of the biological conversion of coal synthesis gas to methane has been demonstrated in the University of Arkansas laboratories. Cultures of microorganisms have been developed which achieve total conversion in the water gas shift and methanation reactions in either mixed or pure cultures. These cultures carry out these conversions at ordinary temperatures and pressures, without sulfur toxicity. Several microorganisms have been identified as having commercial potential for producing methane. These cultures have been used in mixed reactors and immobilized cell reactors to achieve total CO and H2 conversion in a retention time of less than two hours, quite good for a biological reactor. Preliminary economic projections indicate that a biological methanation plant ... can be economically attractive."


Though not reflected in our excerpts, we again confirm that the Pittsburgh, PA, USBM center was the supervising agent of this USDOE-contracted research.

And, we must note, as seen in: USDOE Liquefies Coal with Methane | Research & Development | News;  wherein is detailed: "US Patent 4,687,570 - Direct Use of Methane in Coal Liquefaction; 1987; Assignee: The United States of America; Abstract: This invention relates to a process for converting solid carbonaceous material, such as coal, to liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons utilizing methane"; that:

Once we have Methane, as herein generated, in Arkansas University's process, by bacteria, from Coal, we can use that Methane, in the USDOE's process of USP 4,687,570, to convert more Coal into "liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons".

Finally: Just how, exactly, "economically attractive" does all of this Coal conversion technology We the People paid for have to get, before we actually start doing something with it?

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