Title page for ETD etd-353192239721111

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Loomis, Ian Morton
Author's Email Address imloomis@vt.edu
URN etd-353192239721111
Title Experiments Concerning the Commercial Extraction of Methane from Coalbed Reservoirs
Degree PhD
Department Mining and Minerals Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Karmis, Michael E.
Luttrell, Gerald H.
McPherson, Malcolm J.
Topuz, Ertugrul
Widdowson, Mark A.
  • Methane Drainage
  • Propellant
  • Coal
  • Tailored Pulse
  • Natural Gas
Date of Defense 1997-04-14
Availability unrestricted
In late 1992 coalbed methane became the most

significant source of natural gas produced in Virginia.

This gas is held within the coal formations adsorbed to

the coal matrix. The current well stimulation

technology applies a high pressure fluid to the coal

formation surrounding the wellbore to induce a series

of fractures. The research documented in this thesis

investigates several new technologies that could

replace or augment the current well stimulation

approach of hydraulic fracturing.

The application of liquid carbon dioxide, as the

stimulation agent was investigated in a series of

permeability tests. These measurements were made

using a radial flow technique developed specifically for

this research project. The results of the tests using

liquid carbon dioxide to enhance the permeability of

coal samples, to methane gas, indicated a significant

increase in permeability of the samples. Comparison

to a reference material showed, however, that the

increase was of a general nature, not by specific

interaction with the coal matrix. Rather, the

permeability increase was due to reduced resistance

of the borehole skin. Studies of the new, radial flow,

permeability measurement approach showed good

agreement to a conventional, axial flow, approach for

similar sample bedding orientation to the gas flow.

The documented experiments also include

investigations into the potential for using custom

designed nitrocellulose/nitroglycerin/RDX based

propellant charges to produce extensive fracturing

away from the wellbore. The first series of these

experiments concerned the characterization of the

burn properties for these propellants and their

mixtures. Utilizing an interior ballistics approach, these

laboratory small-scale shots were numerically

modeled with a program written as a part of this

project. Using the small-scale results and the modeled

data, a series of large-scale test shots were developed

and fired to gain understanding of the scale effects.

The small-scale constant volume bomb, and the

large-scale vented bomb were both custom designed

and fabricated for this project. Comparisons of the

laboratory data and modeled predictions show good

agreement for both the small and large-scale test


This work concludes by presenting considerations for

utilizing the propellant based well stimulation approach

in the water filled wells in southwest Virginia.

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