An original behaviour

Methane hydrates, made as they are of ice ‘cages’ that trap gas molecules, are stable compounds only when simultaneous very low temperature and high pressure conditions occur. If the temperature increases or the pressure decreases, the ice melts and methane is released in its gaseous form: methane hydrates, at room pressure and temperature, survive for only a couple of seconds. It is for this reason that to collect a sample of this substance is very difficult because, on bringing it to the surface, the majority of the methane is lost and only a minor part can be recovered in solid form. This characteristic is one of the main limitations to the extraction of methane stored in this way and also one of the possible sources of serious environmental hazards connected to its exploitation.
Methane hydrate ice found under the ocean floors can melt for various reasons, but the main one is surely the increase in the water temperature. The release of methane in its gaseous form brings about the formation of gas bubbles that expand on rising, and on reaching the surface they scatter in the atmosphere. This gives rise to a characteristic bubbling of the waters where the phenomenon is taking place.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

  • energy

    World natural gas reserves in 2017

    Look

    energy

    Natural gas production: top ten countries in 2017

    Look

    energy

    Underground pipeline

    Look
  • energy

    Gas pipeline under construction

    Look

    energy

    Natural gas: the world top ten exporters (2017)

    Look

    energy

    Map of the world gas resources

    Look
  • energy

    Refining

    Look at the video

    energy

    Share of renewable electricity sources in total electricity sector consumption (2018)

    Look

    energy

    Per capita waste generation in EU, 2017

    Look
  • energy

    World natural gas reserves in 2017

    Look

    energy

    Natural gas production: top ten countries in 2017

    Look
  • energy

    Underground pipeline

    Look

    energy

    Gas pipeline under construction

    Look
  • energy

    Natural gas: the world top ten exporters (2017)

    Look

    energy

    Map of the world gas resources

    Look
  • energy

    World natural gas reserves in 2017

    Look
  • energy

    Natural gas production: top ten countries in 2017

    Look
  • energy

    Underground pipeline

    Look

Facts

  • Some curiosities about methane hydrates

    The melting of the ice cells, not only brings about the release of methane gas, but it also produces another…

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

    Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…

  • Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

    Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

    Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

  • Geographical distribution of energy

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need. Unfortunately we cannot exploit all this…

    An artificial geyser

    Electric and thermal power produced from geothermal energy depend on the existence of underground infiltrations...

    A hydrogen house

    In Settimo, a municipality close to Turin, the first Unité d’Abitation has been created...

  • 14 June 2011

    Some curiosities about methane hydrates

    The melting of the ice cells, not only brings about the release of methane gas, but it also produces another…

    2 March 2011

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

  • Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…

    Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

  • Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

    Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

  • 14 June 2011

    Some curiosities about methane hydrates

    The melting of the ice cells, not only brings about the release of methane gas, but it also produces another…

  • 2 March 2011

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

  • Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…