Sources of methane
Natural gas fields
The major source of methane is extraction from geological deposits known as natural gas fields. It is associated with other hydrocarbon fuels and sometimes accompanied by helium and nitrogen. The gas at shallow levels (low pressure) is formed by anaerobic decay of organic matter and reworked methane from deep under the Earth's surface. In general, sediments buried deeper and at higher temperatures than those which give oil generate natural gas. Methane is also produced in considerable quantities from the decaying organic wastes of solid waste landfills.
Apart from gas fields an alternative method of obtaining methane is via biogas generated by the fermentation of organic matter including manure, wastewater sludge, municipal solid waste (including landfills), or any other biodegradable feedstock, under anaerobic conditions. Methane hydrates/clathrates (icelike combinations of methane and water on the sea floor, found in vast quantities) are a potential future source of methane. Some say that significant quantities are also produced by cattlebelching. This however, remains to be proven and most scientists refute this as a fact. The livestock sector in general (primarily cattle, chickens, and pigs) produces 37% of all human-induced methane". However animals "that put their energies into making gas are less efficient at producing milk and meat". Early research has found a number of medical treatments and dietary adjustments that help limit the production of methane in ruminates.
Industrially, methane can be created from common atmospheric gases and hydrogen (produced, perhaps, by electrolysis) through chemical reactions such as the Sabatier process, Fischer-Tropsch process. Coal bed methane extraction is a method for extracting methane from a coal deposit.
A recent scientific experiment has also yielded results pointing to the fact that all plants produce methane, and as the climate warms they produce more. In fact 600 million metric tons of methane a year are produced, 225 of those produced by plants.