Methane hydrates are promising materials for storage and transportation of natural gas; however, the slow kinetics and inefficient water to hydrate conversions impede its broad scale utilisation. Rapid (2–3 h) and efficient methane hydrate conversions by utilising the water molecules confined in the intra- and inter-granular space of silica powders has been attempted. All the experiments were conducted with amorphous silica (10 g) powders of 2–30 mm; 10–20 nm grain size, to mimic the hydrate formations in fine sand and clay dominated environments under moderate methane pressure (7–8 MPa). Encasing of methane molecules in hydrate cages was confirmed by Raman spectroscopic (ex situ) and thermodynamic phase boundary measurements. The experiments reveal that the water to hydrate conversion is relatively slower in 10–20 nm grain size silica, although the nucleation event is rapid in both silicas. The process of hydrate conversion is vastly diffusion-controlled, and this was distinctly observed during the hydrate growth in nanosize silica.
Pinnelli S. R. Prasad, Burla Sai Kirana and Kandadai Sowjanya (2020) RSC Adv., 10, 17795