Science and Engineering

University of California, Irvine

Derek Dunn-Rankin
Irvine, CA
December 2012

The team at UC Irvine proposes to advance the science of carbon-free power from fossil fuel by exploiting the natural conditions of the deep oceans. A significant methane storehouse is in the form of methane clathrates in sediment on the continental shelves and in permafrost. There is currently no clear technology for mining and using these deposits safely, but there are opportunities for doing so that take advantage of the high pressures and low temperatures of the deep oceans. For example, deep ocean conditions stabilize unusual phases of potential fuels (e.g., methane clathrates) and permit possible carbon sequestration strategies (e.g., CO2 clathrates). In addition, combustion at high pressures is thermodynamically efficient and produces high-density power. To investigate the novel deep-ocean processes that could contribute to a carbon-free power future, such as in situ high-pressure combustion and the kinetics of formation and dissolution of hydrates, the team proposes to construct a facility that simulates the deep ocean temperature and pressure environment and to observe directly these processes in a controlled laboratory environment. This will be the only facility in the world capable of investigating both high-pressure combustion and clathrate-based sequestration strategies.

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