CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – With renewable and clean energy a common talking point across the globe, many scientists are looking into the possibility of using methane hydrate as a new energy source. That’s why Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi was pleased to welcome scientists from all over the world to campus for the 11th International Workshop on Methane Hydrate Research and Development held in early December.
“Methane hydrate has the potential to be two to three times bigger than the petroleum reserves we have currently,” said Dr. Richard Coffin, Department Chair of Physical and Environmental Sciences at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and International Workshop Steering Committee Co-Director. “For example, Japan has found they can get 100 years of clean energy for the entire country from one small methane hydrate deposit off the central coast of Tokyo.”
Coffin further explained that methane hydrate is believed to be a cleaner energy source when compared to petroleum. With substantial levels of methane within the ocean, it could potentially be a key player in the warming of the Earth’s oceans. This research is also of particular interest to Texas because of the large deposits of frozen methane found under the Gulf of Mexico, which have the potential to increase the world’s energy supply.
The workshop consisted of presentations by various professors from across the globe, including theoretical physicist Bjørn Kvamme from the University of Bergen, Norway and Jurgen Mienert from the University of Tromsø, Norway.
“Each country’s researchers have greatly differing expertise in this field and this workshop allows all of these scientists to gather in one place to share their findings,” said Coffin. “Our University is incredibly lucky to have hosted this conference because it also allowed for the world to see what kind of unique research we’re doing here.”
According to Coffin, despite its huge potential to be the next worldwide energy source, methane hydrate is still vastly under-researched.
“People talk about CO2, but no one talks about methane. We really have to understand it to be able to understand the earth,” said Coffin. “It absorbs 25 percent more heat and is one of the biggest factors in climate change – yet we still don’t understand it fully.”
Previous workshops have been held in Hawaii, Washington DC, Chile, British Columbia, Scotland, Norway, India, New Zealand and Japan. This is thanks to the workshops being organized by Dr. Tsutomu Uchida at the University of Hokkaido; Dr. Stephen Masutani at the University of Hawaii; Dr. Norio Tenma at National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology; Dr.Bjørn Kvamme at the University of Bergen and Dr. Richard Coffin at A&M-Corpus Christi.
The 12th International Methane Hydrate Research and Development Workshop will be held in China, during October 2018. To learn more about Coffin’s research, click here.