The measurement of gas content of coals has been dominated by the standard methods of core desorption described by ASTM D7569 and AS3980 (1999). In this paper the limitations of these procedures are discussed with particular reference to the partial gas pressure the gas content is being referred to. Because the gas content is always quoted as an absolute value measured to an undefined gas partial pressure as opposed to a value at atmospheric pressure it brings into question the nature of the isotherm model being used at pressures below atmospheric. The generally accepted Langmuir model is found to be lacking at these lower pressures and alternative options are considered.

The current practise of measuring isotherms is also questioned, particularly with respect to mixed gas types where the extended Langmuir or IAS models are found wanting.

To overcome these deficiencies the process of measuring gas contents to known partial pressures of seam gas is used. So too is the process of measuring native isotherms on initial desorption of core. This is extended to the measurement of laboratory isotherms at reduced pressures.

The results of isotherm testing indicate that the native isotherms are generally not the same as isotherms derived from laboratory testing though they are more similar where the seam gas is of a single composition. By undertaking isotherm tests to lowered pressures we can see that there are shortcomings in the Langmuir equation and that gas storage at lowered pressures may vary substantially from this model. The measurement of gas content by conventional desorption needs to be measured to a known partial pressure and this needs in turn to be related to the isotherm.

This paper uses some basic science to produce better solutions to gas content analysis. Along with these developments comes the analysis of desorption of a sample and how this relates to the diffusion coefficient and core fracturing. This leads in turn to an improved process to determine the lost gas on core retrieval for coals and shales.

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