Ciris Energy is a privately held corporation founded in 2007, and focused on "low-value hydrocarbon resources," such as crude oil, coal, and shale. Ciris was founded by Robert Downey, "a 33-year veteran of the oil and gas and power generation industry," according to the company website.
On January 3, 2011, Ciris said it raised a series B "startup financing" to build its first commercial plant for converting underground coal to syngas. Khosla Ventures led the funding, along with existing investors Braemer Ventures, Rho Ventures, and GE Energy Financial Services. An SEC document showed that Ciris raised $23.9 million, out of a planned $63.9 million. Ciris has developed a process to biologically convert underground coal into methane, the main ingredient of natural gas.
The process of converting underground coal to natural gas--called coalbed methane extraction--is being pursued by other companies, including Luca Technologies. Luca plans to do it by injecting a nutrient-rich solution into coal beds to stimulate growth of bacteria that digest coal to make methane. The methane is then captured and pumped into natural gas pipelines.
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- Energy Justice Network, "Coal-Bed Methane", web page containing links to numerous reports and studies
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