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Rapid Gas Hydrate Formation Process

Date Posted
USPN 8,354,565


The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is seeking collaborative research and licensing partners interested in implementing United States Non-provisional Patent Application entitled "Rapid Gas Hydrate Formation Process." Disclosed in this application is a method and device for producing gas hydrates from a two-phase mixture of water and a hydrate forming gas such as methane (CH4) or carbon dioxide (CO2). The two-phase mixture is created in a mixing zone, which may be contained within the body of the spray nozzle. The two-phase mixture is subsequently sprayed into a reaction vessel, under pressure and temperature conditions suitable for gas hydrate formation. The reaction zone pressure is less than the mixing zone pressure so that expansion of the hydrate-forming gas in the mixture provides a degree of cooling and better mixing between the water and the hydrate-forming gas. The result of the process is the continuous formation of gas hydrates with a greatly reduced induction time for gas hydrate crystal formation. This invention may have utility in natural gas / CH4 storage and transport, COsequestration, cold energy storage, transportation fuels, and desalination.


Gas hydrates, also known as clathrate hydrates, are crystalline solids formed from the mixture of water and a gas under defined temperature and pressure. The mixing of a gas with water produces a lattice or cage-like structure held together by hydrogen-bonded water molecules, that act to entrap gas molecules such as methane or CO2. In hydrate form, significant amounts of natural gas can be held, making the use of gas hydrates a favorable option for natural gas storage and transportation. Relative to liquefied natural gas, gas hydrates can be stored as a solid or semi-solid material at atmospheric pressure and higher temperature (-20°C versus -162°C) providing a safer and potentially lower-cost alternative for natural gas storage and transportation. Reduced capital and operational costs for small to mid-sized gas fields will make the adoption of gas hydrate technology feasible.

The subject technology provides a process and device for the formation of gas hydrates from a two-phase mixture of water and a hydrate-forming gas. This technology allows for continuous hydrate formation with reduced induction time. Developmental efforts are currently underway to further refine the process by controlling temperature and pressure variables directly within the spray nozzle. NETL is interested in further development and deployment of this technology through collaborative research and licensing partners.


This method and device for the formation of gas hydrates provides the following advantages over standard hydrate batch processes where hydrate formation involves producing a rapidly stirred high-density slurry using a combination of mechanical mixing and bubbling of recycled, unreacted gases over a nominal 6 hour period.

  • Internal mixing utilizing atomizer / nozzle designs in a moderate-pressure reactor system allows for optimal mixing of hydrate forming gases with water while allowing for improved gas solubility and heat transfer, providing instantaneous and continuous hydrate formation
  • Allows for reduced induction, nucleation and crystalline growth, and gas solubility times associated with conventional batch formation systems of days or multiple hours
  • Technology increases gas hydrate yield with lower energy expenditure
  • Technology may have utility in natural gas CH4 storage and transport, CO2 sequestration, cold energy storage, transportation fuels, and desalination processes

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