- Number 311 |
- May 10, 2010
New technique to form methane hydrate
Experiments at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) have shown that rapid formation of methane (natural gas) hydrate, and other gas hydrates, is possible. The rapid hydrate formation process is made possible by use of a novel (U.S. Patent application in progress) nozzle which allows almost instantaneous and continuous formation of methane hydrate. The process occurs at temperatures between 5 - 15°C in a 900 psig methane environment.
The process was conducted in the 15 L hydrate cell, also designed at NETL. Hydrate formation continued for several days while the flow rates and temperatures of the water and methane and the overall temperature of the methane environment were varied. Raman Spectroscopy verified that Type I clathrate methane hydrate (the same type of methane hydrate that is found in nature) was formed using this process. Methane hydrate formation typically takes anywhere from a minimum of six hours to several days or weeks in the laboratory setting.
Rapid and continuous methane hydrate formation allows a more cost-effective method for the storage and transport of methane compared with conventional compressed and liquefied natural gas. Methane hydrate has the ability to store 164 times its volume (at STP) in gas. The hydrates exhibit a self-preservation phenomenon that allows for the hydrate to be transported at atmospheric pressure and temperatures between -10 to -20 °C. This temperature range is the same as that used commercially to transport frozen foods in trucks, box cars, and ships, requiring no new transportation technology to be utilized for the hydrate transport. This has the potential to provide a tremendous cost savings over compressed and liquefied natural gas transportation.
[Linda Morton, 304.285.4543,