Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

LUCA technologies confirms real-time methane generation

29.04.2005


May provide opportunity to convert finite oil resource to long-term production of natural gas

Luca Technologies LLC today announced that its researchers have confirmed the presence of a resident, methane-generating community of microorganisms ("microbial consortium") in substrate samples taken from the 110,000 acre Monument Butte oilfield located in North Eastern Utah. This site represents the latest in a series of active "GeobioreactorsTM" that Luca Technologies has identified since its first demonstration of this phenomenon in the Powder River Basin coalfields of Wyoming. Geobioreactors are sites where microbial conversion of underground hydrocarbon deposits (oil, oil shales, and coal) to methane is ongoing. Such Geobioreactors may offer the potential of turning currently finite energy reserves into methane "farms" capable of long-term, sustainable energy generation.

"The hydrocarbon resources available in the Monument Butte oilfield are very large, making the possibility of shifting from oil production to the ongoing farming of clean, natural gas an attractive consideration," said Robert Pfeiffer, president and chief executive officer of Luca Technologies. He noted that the Monument Butte site was one of six oil fields across the United States that Luca has been studying. The company has demonstrated two of those sites to be robust, methane-generating Geobioreactors, and two to be less actively generating methane. Three additional sites are not currently active but may have the potential to be turned into active Geobioreactors through cross-inoculation with microbial consortia from active sites.



Luca scientists have also begun to isolate and identify particular members of the Monument Butte microbial consortium. Through partial DNA sequence analysis, the company has identified Clostridia and Thermatoga as two of the key members of this consortium. Clostridia form a broad genus of bacteria known for their diverse metabolic pathways. Clostridia frequently thrive in anaerobic environments and many species are known for their heat tolerance. Thermatoga microorganisms are known to play a role in the anaerobic oxidation of hydrocarbons to alcohols, organic acids and carbon dioxide. Thermatoga also thrive in high temperature environments, such as those found in sub-surface oil wells.

"Oil within the Monument Butte field has a waxy composition that may facilitate the strong real-time methane generation we see at this site," commented Mr. Pfeiffer. "If so, then areas with large accumulations of waxy oil – for example, the Daqing Field in Northeast China -- could prove to be important sites for the bioconversion of residual oil to methane and the restoration of these ’spent’ sites to economic energy production."

Potential for Methane "Farming"

It has long been known that certain microorganisms are "methanogens" – microbes that generate methane by metabolizing organic materials including various hydrocarbons. While it has also been generally accepted that many of the known methane deposits were produced by such organisms, most of this production was thought to have occurred millions of years ago, when the hydrocarbon deposits were less mature and closer to the surface of the earth.

Luca scientists, employing the tools of modern biotechnology and genomics, have now shown that living methane generating, microbial consortia are present and actively forming methane within some of these hydrocarbon substrates. In addition to demonstrating that methane formation by these microbes can be stimulated by the introduction of nutrients or suppressed by heat sterilization or the introduction of oxygen, Luca has shown that radio-labeled CO2 (carbon dioxide) introduced to these substrate samples is converted to radio-labeled methane. This demonstrates that the methane formation is the result of a biological process occurring today.

Luca is actively working to characterize Geobioreactors and the microbial consortia that populate them, as well as to understand the metabolic processes by which those consortia generate methane. The company expects to evaluate specific Geobioreactors and their potential for conversion to methane "farms," both through partnerships with active Operators in the oil and gas industry and potentially on its own. If successfully developed, Luca believes this approach has the potential to turn current finite energy resources into even more valuable resources for the long-term production of clean, sustainable energy.

About LUCA Technologies

LUCA Technologies is a privately held company that is developing a novel, long-term biotechnology-driven solution to rising U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources. Addressing the $150 billion domestic natural gas market, the company is leveraging the ability of naturally occurring microorganisms to convert underutilized domestic oil, organic shale and coal resources to clean, sustainable energy.

Contacts:

Christie L. Haas
LUCA Technologies
(303) 534-4344
chaas@lucatechnologies.com

Joan Kureczka or
Jesse Fisher
Kureczka/Martin Associates
(415) 821-2413
Jkureczka@comcast.net

Joan Kureczka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lucatechnologies.com

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Energy-efficient spin current can be controlled by magnetic field and temperature
17.08.2018 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Scientists create biodegradable, paper-based biobatteries
08.08.2018 | Binghamton University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>