Science is ever changing, and research studies have developed more methods to control and use nature’s building blocks. Gas hydrates are no exception to these developments.
For starters, a gas hydrate is a substance made up of a gas molecule surrounded by numerous water molecules. This composition gives an appearance and physical makeup similar to ice, though a gas hydrate is a lot more stable and complex.
The ability to manipulate these building blocks has afforded scientists four new ways of storing, transporting, and utilizing gas hydrates.
A Magic Act: Powder Form
One of the new ways to deal with gas hydrates is to put it into powder form. British research studies have developed a silica and water material that allows gas hydrates to take the form of powder, which then makes it possible to transport the substance in a variety of containers. This method also makes the substance more durable as it more efficiently survives harsh conditions and outside circumstances.
New Developments in Alaska
Alaska has become a hotbed of gas hydrate mining recently when new method of extracting these hydrates was discovered. By filling the frozen arctic soil and seafloor with quantities of waste carbon dioxide, gas hydrate is extracted and able to be stored and used. These experiments began in 2002 and were picked back up in 2008, at which point the breakthrough was discovered. Scientists believe this method will be used and refined for years to come.
Transporting Through Pipelines
A relatively new, yet proven to be reliable method of transporting gas hydrates is through the usage of a pipeline. When large reserves of gas hydrates are discovered, often in fairly remote locations, a pipeline can be installed with which to move the hydrates. This method allows a secure flow of the substance as it travels from Point A to Point B.
Utilizing Gas Hydrates as Possible Fuel Source
It is believed by many that gas hydrates are a possible future fuel source. Oil is an increasingly rare commodity, with areas such as Eagle Ford, Texas being constantly drilled to draw upon every bit that is able to be extracted. Researchers commonly refer to gas hydrates as burnable ice, and believe they can bridge the gap from relying on oil until cleaner, less costly fuel alternatives are discovered and perfected.
Gas hydrates may become the self-help the United States needs to find new efficient energy sources to fill the needs of a fuel-consuming nation.