Gas Hydrates: Climate Change and Energy Supply
Walter Chapman, Ph.D., Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University
Gerald Dickens, Ph.D., Department of Earth Sciences, Rice
Brandon Dugan, Ph.D., Department of Earth Sciences, Rice University
George J. Hirasaki, Ph.D., Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University
Manik Talwani, Ph.D., Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Department of Earth Sciences, Rice University
Colin Zelt, Ph.D., Department of Earth Sciences, Rice University
Gaurav Bhatnagar, Graduate Student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University
Kishore Mohanty, Ph.D., Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Houston
Gaurav Bhatnagar completed his Ph.D. fall 2008
Dr. Brandon Dugan conducts a presentation
Gas hydrates are crystalline solids composed of gas molecules trapped
inside a rigid lattice of water molecules. These compounds occur
naturally in Arctic permafrost at depths greater than 200 meters, and
they also form in marine sediments at ocean floor depths greater than
500 meters where temperatures hover near freezing.
Gas Hydrates offer a vast, untapped source of energy, a key element
in the global carbon balance and past global warming events and the
number one problem for hydrocarbon transmission in deepwater oil and gas
production. This research combines Rice University and external
expertise in the natural occurrence of methane hydrates, thermodynamics
and kinetics of gas hydrates, and transport through porous media. The
research will develop mechanistic models to describe the accumulation
and dissociation of gas hydrates. Such knowledge is important to
understanding the role that gas hydrates might play in energy
exploration and production and with regard to climate change. The
program supports seminars to address global climate and sustainable
energy production and investigate the contribution of gas hydrates to
global climate change and future energy supplies. The seminars will
bring together researchers from Rice, the University of Houston, Texas
Tech University and local companies.
Shell Center funds will enable the research team to enlist a graduate
student's assistance in modeling the dynamics of the accumulation and
dissociation of methane hydrates in deep ocean sediments.
Bhatnagar and his research advisor, Dr. George Hirasaki. In the background, his research, winner of the American Geophysical Union Outstanding Student Paper
Bhatnagar (center) accepting first place at the SPE International Student Paper competition
The work developed by Mr. Bhatnagar received a $1 million grant from
the Department of Energy to fund further work by George Hirasaki and
Walter Chapman from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering, Jerry Dickens, Brandon Dugan and Colin Zelt of the Earth
Science Department, and Kishore Mohanty of the University of Houston.
The work will develop models and produce data for detection, production
and impact of assessing and quantifying gas hydrates below the seafloor.
The multi-disciplinary project will address remote imaging of gas
hydrate accumulations, geologic accumulation of hydrates, reservoir
production of hydrates, impacts of geologic and human perturbations to
the hydrate system, and geochemical proxies for estimating fluxes
through these dynamic systems.
In May 2006, Rice University graduate student Guarav Bhatnagar was
recognized with the Outstanding Student Paper Award from the American
Geophysical Union, in Acapulco, Mexico, where he presented the results
of his latest research.
Mr. Bhatnagar won the Ph. D. division of the International Student
Paper Contest at the Society of Petroleum Engineers Annual Conference
and Exposition in San Antonio, on October 24, 2006. He was recognized at
the annual awards banquet. The title of his presentation was,
“Generalization of gas hydrate distribution and saturation in marine
sediments by scaling of thermodynamic and transport processes.” Dr.
George Hirasaki and Dr. Walter Chapman of the Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering Department at Rice University were his research advisors.
Dr. Jerry Dickens discusses research findings
Bhatnagar, first place Fellowship recipient, with Professor Kobayashi, at the Inaugural Kobayashi Graduate Fellowship event
For more information, visit:
Department of Energy project description:
Bhatnagar, G., Chapman, W.G., Dickens, G.R., Dugan, B. and Hirasaki,
G.J., in press, Generalization of gas hydrate distribution and
saturation in marine sediments by scaling of thermodynamic and transport
processes, American Journal of Science.
Winters, W.J., Dugan, B. and Collett, T.S., in review. Physical
Properties of Sediments from Keathley Canyon and Atwater Valley, JIP
Gulf of Mexico Gas Hydrate Drilling Program, Marine and Petroleum
Dugan, B., in review, Fluid Flow in Keathley Canyon, Northern Gulf of
Mexico, Marine and Petroleum Geology.
Fire in Ice: Implications for Energy Development
and the Carbon Cycle
November 12-13, 2003
U.S. Energy Scenarios for the 21st Century
February 16, 2005
Return to Research