The coal industry in the U.S. is struggling, with industry giant Arch Coal filing for bankruptcy last week.
Also last week President Obama halted new coal leases on federal lands until the benefits to taxpayers and impact on the environment are reviewed.
While it’s clear that energy from natural gas and renewables are viable alternatives to coal, a new future for coal may also exist. New technologies rooted in bioconversion pathways and genomics may provide the solution. A research team based at the University of Alberta and involving collaborators at a number of other institutions are developing greener processes to extract energy from coal by harnessing the power of microbes.
The bioconversion of coal to methane has potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and repurpose abandoned underground coal mines. Learn more at Genome Alberta’s blog about a proposal to develop microbial conversion of coal to methane in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Verschuren Centre and New Paradigm Engineering are key partners in this initiative.
The organizers of the Atlantic Biorefinery Conference will keep you informed on deadlines, speakers, and other updates.