UW Conference Attracts Experts in Biogenic Natural Gas

June 8, 2012

Experts from across the globe will gather at the University of Wyoming later this month to share their expertise and knowledge of biogenic natural gas at the Secondary Biogenic Natural Gas International Conference.

The conference is sponsored by the UW School of Energy Resources' Center for Biogenic Natural Gas Research.

Coal-bed methane, a type of natural gas, can be produced two ways: thermogenically (with pressure and heat) and biogenically (using microbes). Some coal seams in the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming contain primarily biogenic gas.

Interest in biogenic natural gas has grown recently with the recognition that the operational life of depleted hydrocarbon reserves may be extended using technologies that promote the activity of indigenous microbial communities. These same technologies could be applied to coal seams throughout the Powder River Basin, aided by the infrastructure already in place to extract and transport coal-bed methane.

The responsible development of this technology requires the proper management of a wide range of complex scientific, environmental, economic and social issues.

"With the discovery that many of the world's shallow hydrocarbon reserves contain vital microbial communities capable of producing methane, we now have an exciting opportunity to develop a new generation of clean energy technologies for enhancing the production of biogenic natural gas," says Michael Urynowicz, director of the Center for Biogenic Natural Gas Research and a professor in UW's Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering.

"It's my hope that the conference will help the public become more aware of the role that biogenic processes play in the current energy economy and their potential role in the energy economy of the future," Urynowicz says. "I'm also hopeful that the conference will provide a forum for collaborative problem solving between the scientific community and government and industry representatives."

The conference, scheduled June 20-21 at the UW Conference Center at the Hilton Garden Inn, will feature sessions on biogenic natural gas production in general and in Wyoming's Powder River Basin; international production of biogenic natural gas; and complicating factors and the regulatory environment.

Invited speakers include researchers from a host of U.S. research universities, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Banaras Hindu University in India. Experts from companies that are developing biogenic natural gas resources in Australia, Canada and the United States, particularly in the Rocky Mountain region, also are participating.

Rob Hurless, assistant director of UW's School of Energy Resources and energy policy adviser to Gov. Matt Mead, will give the opening keynote speech. Hurless says maintaining and improving economic well-being depends on using all forms of energy available.

For more information about the conference, and for registration information, visit https://www.uwyo.edu/cbng/biogenic-cbng. Media representatives also may register at that site.

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