The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of six multi-year research projects to receive USD 3.8 million in funding that will enhance the understanding of methane hydrate system behaviours when subjected to natural, environmental, or induced production-related changes, helping to determine both the production viability of a vast source of natural gas and to assess the role of gas hydrate in the larger global climate cycle.
The competitively selected projects will involve fundamental research assessing the scale, development, and nature of hydrate-bearing geological systems; the role of the systems in the natural environment; the potential of the systems for commercial recovery of methane; and the potential environmental implications of methane hydrate resource recovery. The research will involve laboratory, field, and numerical simulation studies of gas hydrate reservoir responses to production activities as well as natural variations.
Methane hydrate – natural gas trapped in ice-like cages of water molecules – represents a potentially vast energy resource. Methane hydrate occurs in both terrestrial and marine environments. It represents an important bridge fuel to a low-carbon energy economy. Recent discoveries of methane hydrate deposits in arctic and deep-water marine environments have highlighted the need for a better understanding of methane hydrate as a natural storehouse of carbon and a potential energy resource.
Since the passage of the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000, the DOE has led a coordinated national methane hydrate research and development program in collaboration with six other federal and international agencies, universities, and industry. The program advances the scientific understanding of naturally occurring methane hydrate so that its resource potential and environmental implications can be fully understood.
Six new projects will be managed by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Funding amounts may vary as negotiations progress.