Texas University Comes Up With Novel Method of Producing Natural Gas
A novel method of producing
natural gas from methane ice deposits buried beneath the Gulf of Mexico has
been developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.
The methodology involves injecting air and carbon dioxide into methane ice deposits. The methane hydrate, a water rich chemical compound is formed naturally under high-pressure, low-temperature environments, according to Kris Darnell, a doctoral graduate at UT Jackson School of Geosciences. He said that the new process will help in address the major global challenges of energy security and carbon storage.
The process involves extraction of natural gas form methane hydrates and storing carbon dioxide in hydrates which is unlikely to be released into the atmosphere. The findings have to be tested in the lab. The Jackson School and the UT Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering are currently testing the method in a specialized facility in the Jackson School, which is one of the few in the world that can store and test methane hydrate. This work is being led by Peter Flemings, a Jackson School professor and senior UTIG research scientist, and David DiCarlo, a professor in the Hildebrand Department. Both are co-authors on the paper.
“Two things are really cool. First, we can produce natural gas to generate energy and sequester CO2,” said Flemings. “Second, by swapping the methane hydrate with CO2 hydrate, we disturb the (geologic) formation less, lowering the environmental impact, and we make the process energetically more efficient.”
If the process can be shown to work in the field on an industrial scale, it has enormous potential.