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Molecular Inclusions

Gas Hydrate Clathrates

Gas Hydrate clathrates are elevated-pressure (P) and low-temperature (T) solid phases in which gas molecule guests are physically incorporated into hydrogen-bonded cage-like water host frameworks. Clathrate hydrates are important scientifically and technologically because...

  1. methane hydrates within seafloor sediments and in permafrost represent the largest terrestrial hydrocarbon resource;
  2. carbon dioxide clathrates are important phases in proposals to sequester CO2 in the deep oceans;
  3. hydrogen clathrates are a potential clean fuel source with extremely high energy density;
  4. clathrates (including semiclathrates) may be useful engineering materials for gas storage and separation; and
  5. methane, hydrogen, and CO2 clathrates are potentially important phases with solar system bodies (comets, Moon, Mars, satellites of gas giant planets).

Despite their engineering and scientific importance, much remains to be learned about gas-hydrate clathrates' crystal structures, bonding mechanisms, phase diagrams, thermodynamics, formation/decomposition kinetics, chemical and mechanical stability, acoustic (seismic) elasticities, reactions with sediments, diffusion/transport properties, and environmental effects under climate change. This relative lack of information exists because clathrates are only stable under high-P, low-T conditions, thereby precluding or limiting many traditional experimental methods of investigation.

LANL has been investigating gas-hydrate clathrates for several years. Work has focused on theoretical molecular dynamics studies, engineering applications to gas separations, modeling of methane hydrate extraction using pore-scale and continuum reactive transport codes, neutron diffraction studies of phase stabilities and bonding as a function of P and T, and inelastic neutron scattering studies of bonding. A full list of LANL publications is provided on the publication list.

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