GSC Logan Club Series: Dr. Kirk Osadetz

"The future of gas hydrates as a fuel" 

Date: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Time: 1:30

Location: 3120 Herzberg Building, Carleton 

Lunch provided at 12:30 p.m. in Room 2130 Herzberg.

Natural Gas Hydrates (GHs) are clathrate compounds composed of a host water molecule “cage” supported by guest molecules, usually gases.  Methane and carbon dioxide are common natural guests.  GHs occur widely on the global continental margins and in permafrost regions, where they may constitute among the largest global methane reservoirs.  GHs have potential as: a mechanism for global and local change, an industrial purification and transportation medium, or as a future fuel resource.  GHs are an inferred agent of major global change because the common guest molecules are greenhouse gases with high global warming potential.  While the “clathrate-gun” hypothesis appears attractive, models indicate that GHs respond to, rather than initiating, warming events because of both the dissociation enthalpy and the terrestrial thermal inertial.  Efficient guest molecule storage gives methane hydrates an energy potential like that of bituminous sands, which is several times greater than other unconventional gas resources.  As a result, a considerable global effort has been made to characterize, test and realize GH fuel potential.  The results of these efforts, particular test wells at the Mallik site in the Mackenzie Delta, indicate that GHs could be potential commercial or strategic fuel resources.  Production strategies include GH dissociation by any or some combination of pressure-depletion, active heating, “freezing-point” depression, or gas displacement.  The next step is a protracted production test, possibly at a Canadian location, where alternative predictions from reservoir simulations can be resolved.  Canada has unparalleled opportunities and prospects to advance GH technologies that could result in new globally-leading industrial, employment and research opportunities despite current commodity price disincentives.  In addition, carbon dioxide GHs represent a potential mechanism for secure geological carbon storage that can contribute to future carbon management strategies and emissions reductions, often with a by-product income stream, including enhanced natural gas production.  Industrial applications like clathrate-based water purification/desalinization or pelletized GH transportation provide carbon utilization opportunities where secure geological storage is not a local or cost-effective option.