October 25th, 2006
Gas Hydrates could be this century's next biggest energy find, as reservoirs of the compound have been spotted, found, and studied all over the world. What is a gas hydrate and why is it such an exciting find?
According to USGS, a gas hydrate is:
"… a crystalline solid; its building blocks consist of a gas molecule surrounded by a cage of water molecules. Thus it is similar to ice, except that the crystalline structure is stabilized by the guest gas molecule within the cage of water molecules. Many gases have molecular sizes suitable to form hydrate, including such naturally occurring gases as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and several low-carbon-number hydrocarbons, but most marine gas hydrates that have been analyzed are methane hydrates."
There is a growing number of studies and explorations around Gas Hydrate use. This is because gas hydrates are important for three very distinct energy-related reasons.
First is that it contains a large volume of concentrated methane, which is a natural gas and an evergy resource. Secondly, the molecules of gas hydrates can be important and stable sink for atmospheric methane or even carbon dioxide. Reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by pumping it through gas hydrate structures means global climate management. Lastly, gas hydrates affect the integrity of the seabed. And this last important facet of gas hydrates is also one of the reasons why it cant be harnessed readily.
Watch out for more information on gas hydrates here soon! Till then!