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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2004-1370
Version 1.0
Online only
Published 2005

A Geochemical Investigation into the Effect of Coal Rank on the Potential Environmental Effects of CO2 Sequestration in Deep Coal Beds

Jonathan J. Kolak and Robert C. Burruss


Coal samples of different rank were extracted in the laboratory with supercritical CO2 to evaluate the potential for mobilizing hydrocarbons during CO2 sequestration or enhanced coal bed methane recovery from deep coal beds. The concentrations of aliphatic hydrocarbons mobilized from the subbituminous C, high-volatile C bituminous, and anthracite coal samples were 41.2, 43.1, and 3.11 μg g-1 dry coal, respectively. Substantial, but lower, concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were mobilized from these samples: 2.19, 10.1, and 1.44 μg g-1 dry coal, respectively. The hydrocarbon distributions within the aliphatic and aromatic fractions obtained from each coal sample also varied with coal rank and reflected changes to the coal matrix associated with increasing degree of coalification. Bitumen present within the coal matrix may affect hydrocarbon partitioning between coal and supercritical CO2. The coal samples continued to yield hydrocarbons during consecutive extractions with supercritical CO2. The amount of hydrocarbons mobilized declined with each successive extraction, and the relative proportion of higher molecular weight hydrocarbons increased during successive extractions. These results demonstrate that the potential for mobilizing hydrocarbons from coal beds, and the effect of coal rank on this process, are important to consider when evaluating coal beds for CO2 storage.

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