Unlocking gas hydrates: new energy reserves and environmentally sustainable outcomes

May 11, 2018

Vast reserves of natural gas in the form of gas hydrates (naturally forming ice-like crystals) cover the globe, in sub-sea deposits and regions of permafrost. Gas hydrates are thought to store more methane than all conventional reserves, up to 876,000 trillion cubic feet (TCF) according to estimates published in 2011. However, recovering the methane in an economically and environmentally sustainable is an outstanding challenge. 
Traditional approaches to recovering this methane collapses the gas hydrate as it is processed, with significant environmental implications. A new study, recently published in Energy & Environmental Science, has demonstrated an alternative approach that exchanges methane molecules with carbon dioxide molecules, ensuring that the hydrate reserve remains intact. By sequestering the carbon dioxide into the hydrate reserve through an exchange process, greenhouse gas emissions are captured providing a potentially carbon neutral source of energy. This research has established a method for quantifying methane recoveries in production scenarios based on hydrate exchange and demonstrated novel strategies for enhancing methane recovery.
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