V. Alexiades - UTK and ORNL

Modeling of Methane Hydrates

Methane hydrates, in arctic permafrost and deep ocean sediments, store vast amounts of methane. Estimates place the amount of carbon trapped in gas hydrate formations worldwide at twice that stored in all known fossil fuels on earth.

Thus they constitute an enormous potential energy source. On the other hand, they may be implicated in global warming and climate changes. A few degrees temperature rise would cause melting of hydrate layers and large scale release of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

Methane hydrate is a crystaline solid consisting of methane molecules surrounded by frozen water molecules. It is stable in a narrow range of high pressures and low temperatures. Thus, issues affecting the stability of hydrate layers and phase change processes that may disturb this stability are of utmost importance.

Our objectives are to model gas hydrate reactions and phase stability; to develop tools for interdisciplinary modeling/characterization, and delineate the role of key variables and processes (including bacteria, eventually) in pressure-sensitive gas hydrates. Towards that end, I am developing mathematical/computational models for heat and mass transfer and phase change (hydrate formation and decomposition) in ocean sediments.


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