Tuesday, April 2, 2013

NETL Announces Methane Hydrate Formation Tool

Methane hydrate—molecules of natural gas trapped in an ice-like cage of water molecules—represents a potentially vast methane resource for both the United States and the world. Recent discoveries of methane hydrate in arctic and deep-water marine environments have highlighted the need for a better understanding of this substance as a natural storehouse of carbon and as a potential energy resource.

Methane hydrate formation typically takes anywhere from 6 hours to several days or weeks under laboratory conditions. National Energy Techology Laboratory (NETL) scientists have invented a nozzle design that allows the instantaneous and continuous formation of gas hydrates from a two-phase mixture of water and hydrate-forming gas. Patent No. 8,354,565 was recently issued for this technology. As applied to methane, the invention could radically transform the economics of shale gas and landfill gas development, transportation, and purification.

Methane hydrate can store 164 times its volume in gas (at standard temperature and pressure) and survives at atmospheric pressure and temperatures (-10 to -20 °C) routinely used for the commercial transport of frozen food. A process for rapid and continuous formation of methane hydrate could offer a safer, more cost-effective method for storing and transporting methane compared with conventional compressed and liquefied natural gas. This technology may be applicable to carbon dioxide sequestration, separation of mixed gases (e.g., natural gas streams containing carbon dioxide and other gases impacting high methane content), cold energy storage, transportation fuels, and desalination processes.

Source: NETL

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