Natural gas supplies could be augmented with methane hydrate

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Washington, January 30 (ANI): A new report has said that naturally occurring methane hydrate may represent an enormous source of methane, the main component of natural gas, and could ultimately augment conventional natural gas supplies.

The report, by researchers from the National Research Council has been congressionally mandated.

The US Department of Energy's Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program has made considerable progress in the past five years toward understanding and developing methane hydrate as a possible energy resource.

"DOE's program and programs in the national and international research community provide increasing confidence from a technical standpoint that some commercial production of methane from methane hydrate could be achieved in the United States before 2025," said Charles Paull, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and senior scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California.

"With global energy demand projected to increase, unconventional resources such as methane hydrate become important to consider as part of the future U.S. energy portfolio and could help provide more energy security for the United States," he added.

Methane hydrate, a solid composed of methane and water, occurs in abundance on the world's continental margins and in permafrost regions, such as in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's North Slope.

Although the total global volume of methane in methane hydrate is still debated, estimates yield figures that are significant compared with the global supplies of conventional natural gas.

The existence of such a large and untapped energy resource has provided a strong global incentive to determine how methane might be produced from methane hydrate safely, economically, and in an environmentally sensible way.

Some of the remaining challenges to production identified by the committee include developing the technology necessary to produce methane from methane hydrate and understanding methane hydrate's potential to behave as a geohazard. (ANI)

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