Gas Hydrates

Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


Gas hydrates are crystalline solids that form from mixtures of water and light natural gases such as methane, carbon dioxide, ethane, propane and butane. Methane was the dominant component among other hydrocarbon gases in the sediments. Gas hydrates are ice-like crystalline solids formed from a mixtures of water and natural gas, usually methane. They occur where pressure, temperature, gas saturation, and local chemical conditions combine to make them stable.

Gas hydrates were discovered in 1810 by Sir Humphrey Davy, and were considered to be a laboratory curiosity. In the 1930s clathrate formation turned out to be a major problem, clogging pipelines during transportation of gas under cold conditions.

Sub-seabed methane within the continental margin sediments is produced primarily by microbial or thermogenic processes. In the microbial process organic debris are decomposed by a complex sequence (methanogenesis) into methane, by bacteria in an anoxic environment. Organic matter is composed of carbon, hydrogen and phosphorus in the ratio of 106:16:1, and decomposition results in production of methane.

Gas hydrate consists of three general structure types. Depending on the size of the guest molecule, natural gas hydrates can consist of any combination of three crystal structures: (1) Structure I or sI, (2) Structure II or sII, and (3) Structure H or sH. When pure liquid water freezes it crystallizes with hexagonal symmetry, but when it “freezes” as a hydrocarbon hydrate it does so with cubic symmetry for sI and sII, reverting to hexagonal symmetry for sH.


Guest Molecule Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Hydrate Formation Bond Dissociation Energy Combustion Efficiency 
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