Formation of Methane Hydrate in the Presence of Natural and Synthetic Nanoparticles

Stephen Cox, Diana Taylor, Tristan Youngs, Alan Soper, Tim Totton, Richard Chapman, Mosayyeb Arjmandi, Michael Hodges, Neal Skipper, Angelos Michaelides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Natural gas hydrates occur widely on the ocean-bed and in permafrost regions, and have potential as an untapped energy resource. Their formation and growth, however, poses major problems for the energy sector due to their tendency to block oil and gas pipelines, whereas their melting is viewed as a potential contributor to climate change. Although recent advances have been made in understanding bulk methane hydrate formation, the effect of impurity particles, which are always present under conditions relevant to industry and the environment, remains an open question. Here we present results from neutron scattering experiments and molecular dynamics simulations that show that the formation of methane hydrate is insensitive to the addition of a wide range of impurity particles. Our analysis shows that this is due to the different chemical natures of methane and water, with methane generally excluded from the volume surrounding the nanoparticles. This has important consequences for our understanding of the mechanism of hydrate nucleation and the design of new inhibitor molecules. © 2018 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3277-3284
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Amercian Chemical Society
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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