IIT Madras team produces gas hydrates under ‘space’ conditions

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Gas Hydrates:UPSC IAS Exam

Gas Hydrates


IIT Madras have experimentally shown that methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) can exist as gas hydrates at temperatures and pressures seen in interstellar atmosphere. The carbon dioxide hydrate produced in the lab raises the possibility of sequestering or storing carbon dioxide as hydrates by taking advantage of ice existing in environmental conditions favorable for hydrate formation

What are Gas Hydrates?

  • Gas hydrate is a solid ice-like form of water that containsgas molecules in its molecular cavities
  • In nature, this gasis mostly methane. Methane gas hydrate is stable at the seafloor at water depths beneath about 500 m.
  • In terrestrial conditions, gas hydrates are formed naturally under the sea bed and glaciers under high pressure, low temperature conditions.
  • Gas hydrates are formed when a gas such as methane gets trapped in well-defined cages of water molecules forming crystalline solids.
  • The methane and CO2 hydrates were produced in the lab at very low pressures (ten thousand billionth of atmospheric pressure) and temperature (as low as -263 degree C) to simulate the conditions of deep space.
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Why are gas hydrates important?

  • Large quantities of gas hydrates exist on the world’s continental margins.
  • Methane from gas hydrates may constitute a future source of natural gas.
  • This energy potential is probably the main motivation for many national gas hydrate programmes overseas, e.g., in Japan and the U.S.
  • Gas hydrates are also important for seafloor stability studies, because “melting” gas hydrate may cause seafloor “land” slides.
  • Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Methane released from gas hydrate may therefore play a significant role in climate change.


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