InvestmentCoal Bed Methane

A: Coal bed methane is in mines—it’s a very corrosive, very hot, very severe environment, that is down in the borehole. So, what these pumps are made for is—they typically look like a standard water well submersible pump. However, they are made for extreme temperatures and continuous service. So, their longevity is going to be a lot more than your typical submersible pump—they’re made for that harsh, extreme environment.

Coal bed methane, commonly abbreviated as CBM, is a naturally occurring gas that is produced in coal beds. It is not just a gas that gets ignored, or discarded—no, coal bed methane is becoming increasingly popular as a fuel source.

While CBM, is the same exact compound as natural gas, it originates within a different geologic situation. Its use as a cleaner source of energy in many applications makes it a worthwhile investment given high fuel prices. Due to this rise in popularity, CBM is getting more attention than ever, and for good reason.

Gulf Coast Pump & Supply is very active in the CBM industry, in that we supply many drillers with the submersible pumps needed. As mentioned, these submersible pumps can withstand the extreme heat within these coal beds. The pumps last longer and aid in separating mud, sludge, and rocks from the valuable CBM that drillers seek.

Without these submersible pumps that tackle the heavy-duty tasks that CBM extraction requires, the extraction process would be far less efficient. In fact, it would be so counter-productive that one could speculate it to be pointless to try without these pumps.

To understand why coal bed methane submersible pumps are so vital—you need to understand more about CBM.

Coal Bed Methane 101

Coal bed methane (CBM) which by definition is a natural gas, can be captured and converted for industrial uses. Found in coal deposits or coal seams, it is formed throughout coalification. Coalification is essentially the term for the process by where plant material breaks down and turns into coal. During the coalification process, water saturates the coal and the methane gas gets trapped within the coal.

Although that methane gas is trapped inside the coal—there are ways to extract it from the coal beds and seams. Of course, you may be wondering how that extraction process occurs, and we’ll get to that. However, the real question should be what about the composition of coal bed methane makes it so useful, to want to extract it?

What Is In CBM?

CBM exploration and extraction has been going on for years worldwide. Despite, coal bed methane not being a new practice, it is gaining popularity now more than ever. In fact, the U.S. only recently finally gave CBM it’s due, admitting its widespread availability and potential as a fuel source.

In fact, there are exploratory teams all over the nation trying to find new deposits that lie just beneath the surface. The CBM association, for example, claims that nearly 15% of land in the lower 48 has coal beds with coal bed methane.

The composition of coal bed methane varies depending on where it is collected geographically. However, for the most part, it mainly consists of nearly 97% methane gas (CH4). However, depending on the sample, it can also be comprised of ethane and carbon dioxide—albeit trace amounts, and water.

A good case study is a report published on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website. This report’s data showed the coal bed methane in VA is just over 95% methane. However, in PA coal deposits, the CBM sampled there measured at about 94% methane. So, overall, the composition is relatively the same as far as content. However, it may vary slightly in the amount of methane there is in any given sample.

What Is Coal Bed Methane Used For?

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) estimated domestic production of CBM in 2017 to be around 1 trillion cubic feet. That is quite a bit in terms of volume, but it’s not going to waste. Coal bed methane and its by-products are used extensively in a wide range of industrial applications including:


Coal bed methane is often used as feedstock to manufacture plastics and various fertilizers.

Power Creation

In the last several decades or so, CBM has been increasingly popular as an energy source. For example, to create more efficient power, plants are substituting CNG for coal bed methane to power turbines for power creation.


Coal bed methane is easily convertible into other hydrocarbons such as diesel or gasoline for use in consumer and commercial automobiles.

CBM Extraction Controversy

CBM production doesn’t come without some scrutiny and controversy by critics. The controversy mainly revolves around the use of water during the extraction. When water is used to help free the CBM from mud and rocks, it has to be discharged somewhere. The submersible pumps we sell dump significant volumes of water from coal seams.

This water is highly salinated due to the dissolution of sodium bicarbonate ions or chlorides. This makes the water unsuitable as is for watering crops or other sustainable uses. It would have adverse effects on soil composition and crops.

While the Environmental Protection Agency has not developed any effluent controls for this industry, they do require a permit for wastewater disposal. Another thing the EPA is investigating is that since coal bed methane is a fossil fuel, it expels CO2, during combustion. CO2 as most know is a purported greenhouse gas. The main component of CBM—methane, can have over 72 times more impact on global warming per unit than CO2.

Submersible Pumps Role In The Extraction Process

To extract this useful gas, a steel-lined hole is drilled right through the coal seam surface. The water that is trapped in that seam is pumped out by submersible pumps specifically designed for CBM extraction.

Reducing the hydrostatic pressure under the coal bed will cause gas to be desorbed from the water. The recovered gas is pumped into a pipeline to facilitate collection away from the drill site.

We Know CBM Submersible Pumps.

Whether this is your first foray into the coal bed methane exploration industry or not, we have the right pumps for your project. Our inventory is well-stocked for any scale of project, and we are strategically located to ship fast and easy. Contact us today and tell us what we can do to make your project a success.