Carbon Neutral Energy Production by Hydrate Swapping

There are currently two urgent major global issues facing mankind: One is the future supply of energy for an increasing (and increasingly energy-dependent) population. The other is the threat of catastrophic climate change as a result of global warming caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. This project seeks to address both these issues by using carbon dioxide to produce the vast resources of natural gas locked up as solid gas hydrates in permafrost and oceanic margin zones (for example the recent discovery of gas hydrates in Disko Bay, Greenland). The natural gas hydrates are converted to carbon dioxide hydrates, thereby storing carbon dioxide (the major greenhouse gas) while simultaneously releasing natural gas. This so-called “swapping” process, whereby methane (the major component in natural gas) in the hydrate is replaced by carbon dioxide, allows for production of natural gas from hydrate without adversely affecting the stability of the solid hydrate. Since a mole of methane produces a mole of carbon dioxide in a combustion reaction, the process is essentially carbon neutral (since for every mole of methane produced from the hydrate a stoichiometric amount of carbon dioxide is stored in the hydrate).

 Head of project: Assoc. Prof. Nicolas von Solms,