Since passage of the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000, the U.S. Department of Energy has been leading a coordinated Methane Hydrate R&D Program that includes collaboration with other federal agencies, universities, industry, and international partners. The goal of the program is to advance scientific knowledge of gas hydrates as they occur in nature, such that their resource potential, production strategies, and role in the environment can be more fully understood.
What Is Methane Hydrate?
Methane hydrate is a naturally occurring substance, called a clathrate, in which a host lattice of ice encloses guest molecules of natural gas, predominantly methane. It forms under high-pressure and low-temperature conditions, typically in association with arctic permafrost and in sediments located beneath deepwater ocean basins, especially along continental margins. Methane hydrate accumulations in the U.S. represent a potentially large source of natural gas to help meet the nation’s future energy needs.
NETL’s current Methane Hydrate R&D Program integrates field, laboratory, and modeling studies to confirm the nature and quantity of the resource; and to develop and test technologies for its safe production. The program balances research conducted onsite at NETL with extramural projects that bring together industry, academia, other U.S. government entities, and international partners. Through this collaborative, integrated approach, NETL is working to advance The Nation toward utilization of the vast energy stored in methane hydrates.
Specific, ongoing research pathways include:
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