Energy Department seeks methane hydrate proposals

Apr 13, 2014 by Dan Joling

The U.S. Department of Energy is looking for research proposals that could advance what's known about methane hydrates, a potential new source of fossil fuel.

Methane is the main ingredient of natural gas. The department describes methane hydrate as a lattice of ice that traps methane molecules but does not bind them chemically. Methane is released when the material is warmed or depressurized.

Methane hydrate is found on Alaska's North Slope and in sediment on the outer continental shelf.

The department is offering grant money for research projects in Alaska that could explore how to economically extract methane. The department is also seeking researchers to document methane hydrate deposits in outer continental shelf waters.

The department anticipates federal funding of $20 million over two years for .

Explore further: Methane hydrates and global warming

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Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Apr 13, 2014
The biggest issue will probably be storage...
Vietvet
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2014
The biggest issue will be extraction without setting off a chain reaction of methane escaping into the atmosphere.
Eikka
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
The biggest issue will be extraction without setting off a chain reaction of methane escaping into the atmosphere.


The elephant in the room is that the methane has to be extracted in the long term, or it'll come out on its own at some point in the distant future.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
What part of "fossil fuels are an environmental problem" don't they get?
Eikka
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
What part of "fossil fuels are an environmental problem" don't they get?


You HAVE to hedge your bets, in case the whole renewable energy thing doesn't start working soon.

It's better to have climate change and energy than mass starvation and collapse of society. You tell people not to eat and breathe because it's hurting the planet, they ask what's the point of having a planet if you can't eat and breathe?
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
You HAVE to hedge your bets, in case the whole renewable energy thing doesn't start working soon.

Since it's working everywhere where it's being implemented - what exactly is there to hedge your bets against?

Using methane hydrate is the worst of all possibilities. You get two potent greenhouse gases for the price of one. It'd be 'better' to stick to coal.
Eikka
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
Since it's working everywhere where it's being implemented - what exactly is there to hedge your bets against?


Oh really?

Be honest now. Renewable energy is facing massive scalability problems that you can't just wish away.

Using methane hydrate is the worst of all possibilities. You get two potent greenhouse gases for the price of one. It'd be 'better' to stick to coal.


Methane hydrate is water and methane. CH4•5.75H2O. Once you burn it you get water and CO2. It's no better or worse than natural gas, and you're being disingenuous again.
Eikka
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
Besides, methane hydrates could become a major source of clean hydrogen gas, becuse there's 2-10 times as much methane in known repositories than there are known sources of natural gas, and the extraction process involves pumping in CO2 which frees and displaces the methane, and traps the CO2 in the ocean floor.

So, an extraction platform could reform the methane into H2 and CO2 and pump the CO2 right back in.

Although transporting the methane would be easier and cheaper as such.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Apr 14, 2014
Renewable energy is facing massive scalability problems that you can't just wish away.

Where exactly? There's countries that have substantial amounts of renewables in the mix without outages. That the energy infrastructure needs to be adapted is without question, but there's no ball breaker problem out there when it comes to switching over (even industrialized nations like Spain with over 40%, Switzerland with close to 60% and Norway with more than 96% of electricity production).