Microbial Coal Conversion – putting lignite coal to good use

Good ideas are incredibly frequent and it’s even more astonishing how long they hover around without ever producing any noticeable impact. Most great ideas, that have gone on to change the world, did not do so because the ideas were great to begin with. They did so because there was someone; one single person who made it his quest to make it real.

One thing most inventors and innovators underestimate is the feeble drag their great ideas produce by themselves. With this, I mean their idea’s rationale on a standalone basis and only on the merits of their greatness.

They are still great ideas on a pure conceptual basis and often remain so if put into real life. But they are often living a life in the shadows as some sort of bloodless creatures while their inventors often slowly descend into an abyss of self-pity and gloom.

Making people excited about anything is a hard piece of work and someone needs to be that somebody. Someone needs to inspire curiosity in people as otherwise the daily media pounding just zaps whatever great happens around us out with utter ferocity. Most good ideas that hit us every day are completely unnoticed.

Yet, they are here – all around us at virtually every moment of our life. One such idea is the exploitation of lignite coal reserves through Microbial Coal Conversion. What is this now again you might say?

No more scraping anymore ...

No more scraping anymore …

This planet features extreme volumes of lignite coal. It’s so abundant – we are literally living on it. But lignite coal is also of very poor quality and its exploitation as a source for energy has produced dramatic consequences for human health and destroyed landscapes. We have stopped using it in large parts of the planet for good reason. Areas still using it are typically being remembered for their unbearable stench that ligers just about everywhere and seems to stick to your skin.

I remember when I was a juvenile – it was the time when the Iron curtain fell. I was living near my parents’ home close to the border with what was then Czechoslovakia. Behind the border stretched the unknown wastelands – at least this is what my imagination made of those unknown lands that were fortified with watchtowers and barbed wire.

When the curtain fell, I felt compelled to jump to the other side in order to see what it was like in a communist country. One thing that immediately came to my attention was the eerie stench this part of the world exuded. It was strange as we were less than 10 kilometers away from our home where we never noticed anything about it and there suddenly it was everywhere and also unbearable.

This was the whiff of lignite coal that was used in formerly communist countries in huge quantities as an energy source as it is abundant and cheap. As a young man I was appalled by the very apparent disregard for life and health of its citizens to those states.

Environmentalists are up in arms against the use of coal for just about anything and especially so against lignite coal. And my experience with what has been considered “the East” in my youth told me why they were right about this.

Should lignite coal be used again then?

Coal without this - yes thats possible ...

Coal without this – yes thats possible …

Quick answer – if it’s about burning the lignite itself in order to derive heat and whatever else one needed in terms of energy, then the answer is a clear NO. This garbage should never be lit again as it ruined our health so bad that almost any effort to get rid of it would be warranted. Almost any price is worth paying.

But let’s imagine that this lignite could have another use that would allow using its energy content without wasting our planet by spewing unimaginable amounts of toxins into it. If there would be something that allowed extracting only the energy – not the filth.

You know the mantra. Methane gas is …. – do I really have to repeat all this? Read up on on this blog if you don’t already know what would be coming right now.

What if this shitty lignite could be made into something more useful, cleaner, not killing us through its use? You know what I am talking about – don’t you?

There is a method to convert this coal into methane gas without having to dig up the lignite at first. It simply consists of injecting bacteria into the lignite seams and after a couple of months one can start harvesting the methane.

The bacteria munches the lignite and releases the methane. It’s biological and demands pretty little in terms of investment.

Just imagine in Europe, where we have huge amounts of lignite and cannot use it, we could convert at least part of it into methane gas for our pipeline grids. Dare I say that we could replace part of the Russian gas that we currently worry about losing.

Just imagine this works as the developers say it does. Just imagine it transforms the massive lignite seams of the world into clean burning Natural Gas. That would be a second shale gas revolution without fracking.

2 Comments on "Microbial Coal Conversion – putting lignite coal to good use"

  1. Well summarised. There’s more impact from MCC being successful in Europe than from 100 solar plants and that’s what we’re aiming for.

    • As I said, there are many good things out there that dont get their fair share of attention. Time to get one more good idea working.

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