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Fundamental principles and applications of natural gas hydrates


Natural gas hydrates are solid, non-stoichiometric compounds of small gas molecules and water. They form when the constituents come into contact at low temperature and high pressure. The physical properties of these compounds, most notably that they are non-flowing crystalline solids that are denser than typical fluid hydrocarbons and that the gas molecules they contain are effectively compressed, give rise to numerous applications in the broad areas of energy and climate effects. In particular, they have an important bearing on flow assurance and safety issues in oil and gas pipelines, they offer a largely unexploited means of energy recovery and transportation, and they could play a significant role in past and future climate change.

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Figure 1: The three common hydrate unit crystal structures.
Figure 2: Hydrate guests versus hydrate cavity size ranges.
Figure 3: The isobaric methane and water phase diagram.
Figure 4: A seafloor slump in the Blake-Bahama ridge shown in both seismic (top) and cartoon (bottom) relief40.
Figure 5: Hypothesized causes of the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum (LPTM).

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Sloan, E. Fundamental principles and applications of natural gas hydrates. Nature 426, 353–359 (2003).

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