Methane-hydrate Laboratory and Modeling Research: Bridging the Gap
Charles E. Taylor, Jonathan Lekse, Niall English, 2009. "Methane-hydrate Laboratory and Modeling Research: Bridging the Gap", Natural Gas Hydrates—Energy Resource Potential and Associated Geologic Hazards, T. Collett, A. Johnson, C. Knapp, R. Boswell
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Methane hydrates are clathrates (crystalline solids whose building blocks consist of a gas molecule that stabilizes and is surrounded by a cage of water molecules) where methane is the guest molecule. Methane hydrates are stable and occur naturally in continental margin and permafrost sediment. At standard temperature and pressure (STP), one volume of saturated methane hydrates contains approximately 180 volumes of methane. Current estimates suggest that at least twice as much organic carbon is contained in methane hydrates as all other forms of fossil fuels combined. The methane-hydrate deposits along the coast and in permafrost areas of the United States contain an estimated 320,000 tcf (9000 tcm) of methane. To tap into this vast resource, research is needed to understand the fundamental physical properties of hydrates.
This chapter is an introduction to the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) hydrate facilities and capabilities. The NETL Methane Hydrate Research Group conducts research in four key areas: modeling, computation, thermodynamic properties, and kinetic properties. Our modeling focuses on flow simulation in reservoirs. Computational research models hydrate formation and dissociation. Thermodynamic properties research focuses on measurements of both synthetic and naturally occurring hydrates. Kinetic properties research measures the kinetic properties of methane hydrates (both synthetic and naturally occurring), including the physical properties of hydrates synthesized in one of the many view cells at NETL that range in volume from 1 mL to 15 L.
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In September 2004, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) convened a Hedberg Research Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada titled "Natural Gas Hydrates: Energy Resource Potential and Associated Geologic Hazards." As a continuation of the Hedberg Research Conference in Vancouver, the conveners of the conference and the editors of this Memoir have worked with more than 150 authors and coauthors to prepare this Memoir on gas hydrates. This publication follows the goals of the Hedberg conference; however, the contents of this Memoir were expanded to include all aspects of gas hydrates in nature. This Memoir contains 39 individual contributions, ranging from long topical summaries to shorter focused research papers. This Memoir has been published in two parts, with digital versions of all the complete research papers included on the enclosed CD. The hardcopy portion of the Memoir includes abstracts and several key figures for each of the contributions along with a complete copy of a gas hydrate technical review. The digital portion of this Memoir has been organized into a series of topical sections consisting of review articles, marine gas hydrate papers, and gas hydrate laboratory and modeling studies. Because of the rapidly emerging worldwide interest in gas hydrates, this comprehensive treatise on the geology of gas hydrates will be valuable to both the gas hydrate research community and exploration/development geologists working in arctic and deep marine environments.