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Gas on Ice

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  • hesychastic
    Mike your thoughts on where all this carbon and embedded energy came from and the climatological implications of harvesting it, inclusive of timeline if you ve
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 26, 2004
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      Mike your thoughts on where all this carbon and embedded energy came
      from and the climatological implications of harvesting it, inclusive
      of timeline if you've mulled that over, as well? Given the swift
      mainstreaming of peak oil, and the precarious condition of the US
      energy economy, the exploitation of cathrates now seems inevitable.
      Your comments? Xavier Moon.

      From MIT's Technology Review

      http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/wo_wolman013004.asp?p=0

      Gas on Ice
      New hope for extracting natural gas from solid formations adds a
      hopeful ingredient to the energy future.

      By David Wolman
      January 30, 2004


      Once dubbed an energy pipe dream, the prospect of extracting
      significant quantities of natural gas from frosty hydrate deposits
      just got a major boost. Scientists have demonstrated for the first
      time that they can produce natural gas from an existing gas hydrate
      deposit in nature. An international consortium of researchers and
      gas industry experts met in December in Tokyo to discuss results
      from an experimental drilling project conducted at the hydrate-rich
      well site known as Mallik, in the Mackenzie Delta of northern Canada.

      Hydrate forms when gas, usually methane, mixes with water under just
      the right temperature and pressure conditions. A lattice-work of
      frozen water molecules encases each molecule of the gas, creating a
      flammable, ice-like substance. When it was first discovered in the
      1950s, hydrate was considered a nuisance, often clogging pipelines
      at drill sites. Hydrates were a "gold-plated pain in the
      rear," says
      gas industry veteran Robert Maddox, an emeritus professor of
      chemical engineering at Oklahoma State University.

      In the past few decades, however, interest in hydrate has soared.
      The biggest reason for hydrate's appeal is the sheer volume of
      deposits buried beneath marine sediment and permafrost regions of
      the globe. Keith Kvenvolden, senior scientist (emeritus) at the U.S
      Geological Survey, estimates that the world's total supply of
      hydrate is more than double the amount of all other known fossil
      fuel deposits combined. If we could produce gas from only 1 percent
      of all the hydrates in the world, says USGS researcher Tim Collett,
      we would have enough natural gas to last more than 170,000 years at
      the present U.S. consumption rate of 23 trillion cubic feet annually.

      Drilling for gas hydrates in the Mackenzie Delta of the northwestern
      Canadian Arctic. Images courtesy of USGS.

      As a source for natural gas, hydrate today is about where coal bed
      methane was 15 years ago, says Michael Max, a hydrate expert
      formerly with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington,
      D.C. "Coal bed methane was a classic, unconventional gas
      play," with
      more than a few doubters, Max says. "Now it supplies around eight
      percent of the U.S natural gas supply. We think hydrate has a
      similar trajectory."

      Yet hydrate's evolution has, until the December announcement,
      hinged
      on the giant "if" of technical feasibility. Engineers and
      geoscientists worked for years studying how changes in temperature
      and pressure affect hydrates in deposit. Reduce pressure or increase
      temperature just enough, and hydrate will melt. When that happens,
      the gas and water molecules go their separate ways and the gas,
      everyone assumed, could then be captured much like gas from
      conventional deposits. Computer models had predicted the resulting
      release of gas, but the idea had never been tested, making the
      successful melting and recapture of natural gas at Mallik a
      milestone for energy science.


      The Mallik project followed years of research into the behavior of
      melting hydrate, as well as geophysical assessments of the Mallik
      deposits themselves. For the most recent findings, scientists used
      fiber optics instruments to characterize conditions within the
      different wells, together with seismic studies to estimate the
      extent to which released methane might seep into the surrounding
      geologic formations. After that, it was time to melt the hydrate—
      first through depressurization and then through heating, both of
      which proved to be effective methods for releasing methane that
      could then be captured. So much was known about the wells that the
      team was able to adjust the rate of hydrate dissociation, and thus
      the rate of gas release.

      What's more, Mallik also demonstrated that large amounts of natural
      gas are likely to be attainable in areas with high concentrations of
      hydrate. Because this was a first-time endeavor, scientists
      weren't
      after maximum well output, but rather a carefully controlled
      reaction that could then be analyzed with greater precision. Yet
      models built using the Mallik data suggest that production could
      indeed yield rates of "several million cubic feet of gas per
      day,"
      says Collett—an output as good or better than that of
      conventional
      gas well. That could make hydrates a significant addition to global
      natural gas supply—especially in resource-poor parts of the
      world.)

      Though countries from Canada to India have been investing heavily in
      hydrate research, the biggest effort has been in Japan. With the
      world's second-largest economy, Japan imports roughly 98 percent of
      its oil and gas, and the Japanese are itching to find a domestic
      energy resource. Off the eastern coast of the main island of Honshu
      is a massive hydrate deposit similar in composition and
      concentration to the Mallik site, which helps explain why Japan
      bankrolled the bulk of the Mallik project. Some Japanese industry
      leaders have gone as far as to claim that hydrate development will
      make Japan energy self-sufficient by 2015.

      That may be overly optimistic. For one thing, Japan may not have
      enough hydrate within its borders to power the country. It is also
      too soon to say whether other deposits would be as cooperative and
      productive as Mallik was in this first set of tests. In addition,
      the economics of hydrate production are not yet competitive with oil
      and gas from conventional sources. Nevertheless, the
      unpredictability of global energy markets (the price of natural gas,
      for example, was surging just before the New Year), the almost
      pathological commitment of the Japanese when it comes to energy
      security, and the money being thrown at hydrate research
      collectively indicate that gas from hydrate may very well play a
      major role in our energy picture over the long term.

      A hydrate-rich energy future is not, of course, inevitable. For one
      thing, recent discovery and development of enormous new natural gas
      reservoirs means that conventional supplies of gas will be on hand
      for a long time to come. Economic viability remains the key wild
      card: no company will invest in the science and infrastructure
      needed to extract gas from hydrate if they can make more money
      finding and tapping conventional wells. And lastly, though burning
      natural gas is far cleaner than burning oil or coal, it does emit
      greenhouse gases. "If we get serious about climate change,
      we'll
      have to look beyond carbon-based fuels, whether to solar, nuclear or
      something totally new. In that sense, we could be leaving all that
      hydrate untouched where it is," says David Victor, Director of
      Stanford's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development.

      Still, knowing that it is technically feasible to unlock gas from
      hydrate means development of this resource is possible. And than
      means more choices about fueling the future.
    • mike@usinter.net
      The biggest practical problem with the hydrates is they don t have a rock cap, so that the gas is free to escape. Plus it may cost more in energy to harvest
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 26, 2004
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        The biggest practical problem with the hydrates is they don't have a
        rock cap, so that the gas is free to escape. Plus it may cost more
        in energy to harvest them than the energy you recover. As technology
        is developed, then the climate issues arise. The climate issues are
        more related to large scale EMFs, IMHO, and how hydrates are EMF
        insulating.

        The earth EMF is decreasing--about 8% over the past 100 years.
        Without the earth EMF the solar winds wisk the atmosphere away, and
        especially will wisk the ionosphere, and the ozone layer, and that
        will have immediate impact on climate, in my view. Harvesting
        hydrates may as it turns out be a way of changing the patterns of EMF
        to sustain the earth EMF--so we should find a way to have our cake
        and eat it too.


        --- In methanehydrateclub@yahoogroups.com, "hesychastic"
        <maestro@a...> wrote:
        > Mike your thoughts on where all this carbon and embedded energy
        came
        > from and the climatological implications of harvesting it,
        inclusive
        > of timeline if you've mulled that over, as well? Given the swift
        > mainstreaming of peak oil, and the precarious condition of the US
        > energy economy, the exploitation of cathrates now seems
        inevitable.
        > Your comments? Xavier Moon.
        >
        > From MIT's Technology Review
        >
        > http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/wo_wolman013004.asp?p=0
        >
        > Gas on Ice
        > New hope for extracting natural gas from solid formations adds a
        > hopeful ingredient to the energy future.
        >
        > By David Wolman
        > January 30, 2004
        >
        >
        > Once dubbed an energy pipe dream, the prospect of extracting
        > significant quantities of natural gas from frosty hydrate deposits
        > just got a major boost. Scientists have demonstrated for the first
        > time that they can produce natural gas from an existing gas hydrate
        > deposit in nature. An international consortium of researchers and
        > gas industry experts met in December in Tokyo to discuss results
        > from an experimental drilling project conducted at the hydrate-rich
        > well site known as Mallik, in the Mackenzie Delta of northern
        Canada.
        >
        > Hydrate forms when gas, usually methane, mixes with water under
        just
        > the right temperature and pressure conditions. A lattice-work of
        > frozen water molecules encases each molecule of the gas, creating a
        > flammable, ice-like substance. When it was first discovered in the
        > 1950s, hydrate was considered a nuisance, often clogging pipelines
        > at drill sites. Hydrates were a "gold-plated pain in the
        > rear," says
        > gas industry veteran Robert Maddox, an emeritus professor of
        > chemical engineering at Oklahoma State University.
        >
        > In the past few decades, however, interest in hydrate has soared.
        > The biggest reason for hydrate's appeal is the sheer volume of
        > deposits buried beneath marine sediment and permafrost regions of
        > the globe. Keith Kvenvolden, senior scientist (emeritus) at the U.S
        > Geological Survey, estimates that the world's total supply of
        > hydrate is more than double the amount of all other known fossil
        > fuel deposits combined. If we could produce gas from only 1 percent
        > of all the hydrates in the world, says USGS researcher Tim Collett,
        > we would have enough natural gas to last more than 170,000 years at
        > the present U.S. consumption rate of 23 trillion cubic feet
        annually.
        >
        > Drilling for gas hydrates in the Mackenzie Delta of the
        northwestern
        > Canadian Arctic. Images courtesy of USGS.
        >
        > As a source for natural gas, hydrate today is about where coal bed
        > methane was 15 years ago, says Michael Max, a hydrate expert
        > formerly with the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington,
        > D.C. "Coal bed methane was a classic, unconventional gas
        > play," with
        > more than a few doubters, Max says. "Now it supplies around eight
        > percent of the U.S natural gas supply. We think hydrate has a
        > similar trajectory."
        >
        > Yet hydrate's evolution has, until the December announcement,
        > hinged
        > on the giant "if" of technical feasibility. Engineers and
        > geoscientists worked for years studying how changes in temperature
        > and pressure affect hydrates in deposit. Reduce pressure or
        increase
        > temperature just enough, and hydrate will melt. When that happens,
        > the gas and water molecules go their separate ways and the gas,
        > everyone assumed, could then be captured much like gas from
        > conventional deposits. Computer models had predicted the resulting
        > release of gas, but the idea had never been tested, making the
        > successful melting and recapture of natural gas at Mallik a
        > milestone for energy science.
        >
        >
        > The Mallik project followed years of research into the behavior of
        > melting hydrate, as well as geophysical assessments of the Mallik
        > deposits themselves. For the most recent findings, scientists used
        > fiber optics instruments to characterize conditions within the
        > different wells, together with seismic studies to estimate the
        > extent to which released methane might seep into the surrounding
        > geologic formations. After that, it was time to melt the hydrate—
        > first through depressurization and then through heating, both of
        > which proved to be effective methods for releasing methane that
        > could then be captured. So much was known about the wells that the
        > team was able to adjust the rate of hydrate dissociation, and thus
        > the rate of gas release.
        >
        > What's more, Mallik also demonstrated that large amounts of natural
        > gas are likely to be attainable in areas with high concentrations
        of
        > hydrate. Because this was a first-time endeavor, scientists
        > weren't
        > after maximum well output, but rather a carefully controlled
        > reaction that could then be analyzed with greater precision. Yet
        > models built using the Mallik data suggest that production could
        > indeed yield rates of "several million cubic feet of gas per
        > day,"
        > says Collett—an output as good or better than that of
        > conventional
        > gas well. That could make hydrates a significant addition to global
        > natural gas supply—especially in resource-poor parts of the
        > world.)
        >
        > Though countries from Canada to India have been investing heavily
        in
        > hydrate research, the biggest effort has been in Japan. With the
        > world's second-largest economy, Japan imports roughly 98 percent of
        > its oil and gas, and the Japanese are itching to find a domestic
        > energy resource. Off the eastern coast of the main island of Honshu
        > is a massive hydrate deposit similar in composition and
        > concentration to the Mallik site, which helps explain why Japan
        > bankrolled the bulk of the Mallik project. Some Japanese industry
        > leaders have gone as far as to claim that hydrate development will
        > make Japan energy self-sufficient by 2015.
        >
        > That may be overly optimistic. For one thing, Japan may not have
        > enough hydrate within its borders to power the country. It is also
        > too soon to say whether other deposits would be as cooperative and
        > productive as Mallik was in this first set of tests. In addition,
        > the economics of hydrate production are not yet competitive with
        oil
        > and gas from conventional sources. Nevertheless, the
        > unpredictability of global energy markets (the price of natural
        gas,
        > for example, was surging just before the New Year), the almost
        > pathological commitment of the Japanese when it comes to energy
        > security, and the money being thrown at hydrate research
        > collectively indicate that gas from hydrate may very well play a
        > major role in our energy picture over the long term.
        >
        > A hydrate-rich energy future is not, of course, inevitable. For one
        > thing, recent discovery and development of enormous new natural gas
        > reservoirs means that conventional supplies of gas will be on hand
        > for a long time to come. Economic viability remains the key wild
        > card: no company will invest in the science and infrastructure
        > needed to extract gas from hydrate if they can make more money
        > finding and tapping conventional wells. And lastly, though burning
        > natural gas is far cleaner than burning oil or coal, it does emit
        > greenhouse gases. "If we get serious about climate change,
        > we'll
        > have to look beyond carbon-based fuels, whether to solar, nuclear
        or
        > something totally new. In that sense, we could be leaving all that
        > hydrate untouched where it is," says David Victor, Director of
        > Stanford's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development.
        >
        > Still, knowing that it is technically feasible to unlock gas from
        > hydrate means development of this resource is possible. And than
        > means more choices about fueling the future.
      • David
        ... What you say is indeed true. The Earth s magnetic field is losing strength, for now. However, keep in mind that the as far as anybody can tell, the Earth
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 29, 2004
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          > The earth EMF is decreasing--about 8% over the past 100 years.
          > Without the earth EMF the solar winds wisk the atmosphere away, and
          > especially will wisk the ionosphere, and the ozone layer, and that
          > will have immediate impact on climate, in my view. Harvesting
          > hydrates may as it turns out be a way of changing the patterns of EMF
          > to sustain the earth EMF--so we should find a way to have our cake
          > and eat it too.
          >

          What you say is indeed true. The Earth's magnetic field is losing
          strength, for now. However, keep in mind that the as far as anybody
          can tell, the Earth has had an atmosphere for most of its 4.5 billion
          year life, and I don't see it going away anytime soon. The
          fluctuation in the magnetic field is a brief hiccup, like thousands of
          others that have come and gone in the past.
        • mike@usinter.net
          ... and ... that ... EMF ... cake ... It is well known that the earth EMF flips and changes its intensity. What I suggest is that there are indeed times that
          Message 4 of 5 , Mar 2, 2004
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            Comment below:

            --- In methanehydrateclub@yahoogroups.com, "David" <b1blancer1@e...>
            wrote:
            >
            > > The earth EMF is decreasing--about 8% over the past 100 years.
            > > Without the earth EMF the solar winds wisk the atmosphere away,
            and
            > > especially will wisk the ionosphere, and the ozone layer, and
            that
            > > will have immediate impact on climate, in my view. Harvesting
            > > hydrates may as it turns out be a way of changing the patterns of
            EMF
            > > to sustain the earth EMF--so we should find a way to have our
            cake
            > > and eat it too.
            > >
            >
            > What you say is indeed true. The Earth's magnetic field is losing
            > strength, for now.

            It is well known that the earth EMF flips and changes its
            intensity. What I suggest is that there are indeed times that the
            lack of an earth EMF causes the solar winds to strip away the
            atmosphere, starting, of course, with the ionosphere. Seems to me
            that OZONE would be the first part to the atmosphere to take a hit.
            That then would begin to change the earth global electrical circuitry
            and cause storms--chaotic patterns.

            Which then get modulated by the biosphere.

            The fact that there is an atmosphere and its degree is also a highly
            tuned mechanism, IMHO. Tuned by the biosphere.

            However, keep in mind that the as far as anybody
            > can tell, the Earth has had an atmosphere for most of its 4.5
            billion
            > year life, and I don't see it going away anytime soon. The
            > fluctuation in the magnetic field is a brief hiccup, like thousands
            of
            > others that have come and gone in the past.
          • David
            ... In the most chaotic part of the magnetic field s life, a pole flip, the magnetic field still exists. It s twisted and convoluted, with north and south
            Message 5 of 5 , Mar 3, 2004
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              > It is well known that the earth EMF flips and changes its
              > intensity. What I suggest is that there are indeed times that the
              > lack of an earth EMF causes the solar winds to strip away the
              > atmosphere, starting, of course, with the ionosphere. Seems to me
              > that OZONE would be the first part to the atmosphere to take a hit.
              > That then would begin to change the earth global electrical circuitry
              > and cause storms--chaotic patterns.
              >
              > Which then get modulated by the biosphere.
              >
              > The fact that there is an atmosphere and its degree is also a highly
              > tuned mechanism, IMHO. Tuned by the biosphere.
              >

              In the most chaotic part of the magnetic field's life, a pole flip,
              the magnetic field still exists. It's twisted and convoluted, with
              north and south poles popping up in some really odd places until
              things settle down again, but it is still a magnetic field, and still
              offers protection. In a way, it might be fun! It would be a blast to
              be sitting on a beach in Tahiti on a warm, tropical night, sipping a
              drink with a little umbrella in it, while watching the dance of aurora
              light high overhead.

              If the magnetic field were to vanish altogether for a time, we do have
              one thing in our favor. We have active volcanos constantly
              replenishing the atmosphere. The main effect might be purely
              biological. We would have to take precautions against solar
              radiation, especially during periods of high solar activity.
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