Unlocking the Potential of Gas Hydrates
Methane gas hydrates are ice-like compounds found in harsh environments, such as in offshore sediments in Canada’s continental margins or beneath Arctic permafrost.
Hydrates contain a vast but as yet untapped, amount of clean, unconventional natural gas, and could play a major role in Canada’s future energy supply. However, before this potential can be realized, a number of key questions have to be answered about how natural gas from hydrates can be recovered in an environmentally safe and sustainable fashion.
Dr. Jeffrey Priest, Canada Research Chair in Geomechanics of Gas Hydrates, is setting out to answer these questions. Priest aims to improve understanding of the relationship between gas hydrates and the sediment itself, especially during a process called "dissociation", in which hydrates are transformed back to their individual components of water and gas.
Gas is extracted from the sediment during this dissociation. Laboratory testing can help identify effective methods for gas recovery. However, as dissociation can also dramatically change the behaviour of the sediment, testing will also help researchers understand sediment changes.
Priest’s research will lead to the development of methods to recover natural gas from hydrates in an economical, safe and environmentally friendly way. It will also help Canada manage its natural resources while meeting its obligations to help reduce future climate change.