Special ice

At the beginning of the Nineties, in  marine geology research environments, word began to spread about a particular substance present under the ocean floor: it was the first information on methane hydrates that had up to then received scarce attention because they were considered not much more than a mere geological curiosity and lacking any commercial value. The so-called biogenic methane is released during decomposition processes of organic matter and accumulates within sediments where it may concentrate and eventually rise towards the surface. If the surface is a sea bed, the gas that is released mixes with the cold water of the deep sea and forms a sort of ‘ice’. The water molecules crystallize forming a ‘cage-like’ structure inside which methane molecules are trapped. On freezing, the water squeezes the gas and the mixture’s density increases greatly. Chemically, methane hydrates are made up of a molecule of methane and 6 molecules of water (CH46H2O) and belong to the ‘clathrate’ family, that comprises compounds whose crystalline solids occur when water molecules form cells closed in a ‘cage-like’ structure. For this process to take place, two simultaneous factors are necessary: a low temperature (-15°C) and high pressure all around (20 bar, that corresponds to a sea depth of a little less than 200 m), in addition to an abundant supply of methane and water molecules, of course.

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

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  • 14 June 2011

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    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…