OSU lands $89K federal grant to study methane hydrates

U.S. Department of Energy

Oregon State University will lead one of 14 U.S. Department of Energy-backed research projects looking at the energy potential of methane hydrates — ice structures with natural gas locked inside.  

The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday said Oregon State University will receive $89,000 to lead one of 14 research projects investigating the potential of methane hydrates as a future energy supply.

According to the DOE, methane hydrates are 3D ice-lattice structures with natural gas locked inside. They're found both onshore and offshore in places like the Arctic permafrost and in ocean sediments along every continental shelf.

OSU's part in the effort includes a 12-month project to produce computer models to help researchers "interpret modern-day releases of methane into the atmosphere — or methane fluxes — and reconstruct past episodes of methane flux in gas hydrate-bearing regions from shallow geochemical data."

The 14 projects, stretched across 11 states, follow a test earlier this year along the North Slope of Alaska that showed it was possible to safely extract a steady flow of natural gas from methane hydrates.

“The Energy Department’s long term investments in shale gas research during the 70s and 80s helped pave the way for today’s boom in domestic natural gas production that is strengthening U.S. energy security while creating thousands of American jobs,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a news release. “While research on methane hydrates is still in the early stages, these research efforts as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy could potentially yield significant new supplies of natural gas and further expand U.S. energy supplies.”

Click here for a full list of all 14 research projects.

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