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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Gas Hydrates – Nuisance or Natural Energy Source and Sequestration Medium

Claudia J. Rawn, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Materials ProcessingCollege of Engineering - Department of Materials Science and Engineering

When water and low-molecular weight gases, like methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen disulfide, combine at low temperatures and modest pressures, crystalline gas hydrates are formed. These conditions are met where gas hydrates are found on the continental margins, in permafrost, and in natural gas pipelines. The latter is a nuisance to the gas and oil industry and leads to pipeline plugging, resulting in production interruption and financial loss. Estimates of the amount of methane contained in naturally occurring gas hydrates vary greatly but they represent a sizeable quantity. It would be challenging to harvest the methane from the seafloor due to the way the hydrate deposits are distributed in sediments. Production from permafrost locations show more potential. One possible method would be to inject carbon dioxide into methane hydrate rich deposits to drive the release of the methane molecules while at the same time sequestering the carbon dioxide molecules.​

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