Coalbeds are an abundant source of methane. The presence of methane gas in coal has been well known to coal miners as a safety hazard, but is now being viewed as a source of natural gas. Coalbed methane exists as a monomolecular layer on the internal surface of the coal matrix. Its composition is predominately methane, but can also include other constituents, such as ethane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and hydrogen. The gas, which is bound in the micropore structure of the coalbed, is able to diffuse into the natural fracture network when a pressure gradient exists between the matrix and the fracture network. The fracture network in coalbeds consists of microfractures called cleats. Gas flows through the microfractures to the production well.


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