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Abstract - Methane emitted by coal mine ventilation air (MVA) is a significant greenhouse gas. A mitigation strategy is the oxidation of methane to carbon dioxide, which is approximately twenty-one times less effective at global warming than methane on a mass-basis. The low non-combustible methane concentrations at high MVA flow rates call for a catalytic strategy of oxidation. A laboratory-scale coal-packed biofilter was designed and partially removed methane from humidified air at flow rates between 0.2 and 2.4 L min−1 at 30°C with nutrient solution added every three days. Methane oxidation was catalysed by a complex community of naturally-occurring microorganisms, with the most abundant member being identified by 16S rRNA gene sequence as belonging to the methanotrophic genus Methylocystis. Additional inoculation with a laboratory-grown culture of Methylosinus sporium, as investigated in a parallel run, only enhanced methane consumption during the initial 12 weeks. The greatest level of methane removal of 27.2±0.66 g methane m−3 empty bed h−1 was attained for the non-inoculated system, which was equivalent to removing 19.7±2.9% methane from an inlet concentration of 1% v/v at an inlet gas flow rate of 1.6 L min−1 (2.4 min empty bed residence time). These results show that low-cost coal packing holds promising potential as a suitable growth surface and contains methanotrophic microorganisms for the catalytic oxidative removal of methane.
Limbri, H., C. Gunawan, T. Thomas, A. Smith, J. Scott, & B. Rosche (2014) Coal-Packed Methane Biofilter for Mitigation of Green House Gas Emissions from Coal Mine Ventilation Air, PLoS One 9(4).