Monday, February 01, 2010

Augmenting Natural Gas with Methane Hydrates . . .


Methane hydrates are found worldwide in large quantities -- under the seabed, under the arctic tundra, and in other parts unknown. Intensive research has led to increasingly feasible methods of harvesting these frozen methane hydrates -- which when added to huge new terrestrial natural gas finds will increase methane supplies worldwide significantly.
the U.S. Department of Energy's Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program has made considerable progress in the past five years toward understanding and developing methane hydrate as a possible energy resource.

"DOE's program and programs in the national and international research community provide increasing confidence from a technical standpoint that some commercial production of methane from methane hydrate could be achieved in the United States before 2025," said Charles Paull, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and senior scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. "With global energy demand projected to increase, unconventional resources such as methane hydrate become important to consider as part of the future U.S. energy portfolio and could help provide more energy security for the United States."

Methane hydrate, a solid composed of methane and water, occurs in abundance on the world's continental margins and in permafrost regions, such as in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's North Slope. Although the total global volume of methane in methane hydrate is still debated, estimates yield s that are significant compared with the global supplies of conventional natural gas. The existence of such a large and untapped energy resource has provided a strong global incentive to determine how methane might be produced from methane hydrate safely, economically, and in an environmentally sensible way. _SD
Significant challenges to safe harvesting of frozen methane hydrates remain, and must be overcome before economic use of these massive deposits can become commonplace.

Significant challenges to the use of algal fuels also remain to be tackled, but that doesn't stop some researchers from predicting that algal fuels will be available commercially within 5 years! University of Arizona researchers believe that their new photobioreactor -- dubbed "Accordion" -- will help to accelerate commercial development of algal fuels significantly.

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