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Gas Hydrate Group

Gas Hydrate Group is now Methane Hydrate Research Laboratory, AIST established on April 1, 2005.
This webpage is no longer updated.
Our new URL is: http://unit.aist.go.jp/mhlabo/

Gas hydrates are frozen gas solids such as methane, CO2, etc. enclosed in a polyhedral structure composed of water molecules. The main characteristic of a gas hydrate is its high density gas content: e.g., 1 cc of methane hydrate contains more than 170 cc of methane in the normal state. It has become apparent that methane hydrate is widely distributed in the undersea sedimentary layer and permafrost areas as these satisfy the low temperature and high pressure conditions needed. It has been estimated that reserves of methane hydrate are equivalent to the ultimate reserves of conventional natural gas, i.e. 404 trillion m3. In the Nankai Trough off the coast of Japan, too, estimations show a methane hydrate equivalent to approximately 100 years of Japanfs natural gas requirement. With a view to developing technology for decomposing this methane hydrate into gas and water and obtaining the methane as a natural gas resource, we are conducting research into characterizing the methane hydrate sedimentary layer, modeling the decomposition behavior, and developing exploitation methods.

Group Leader: Takao EBINUMA
Members: Hideki MINAGAWA, Yasushi KAMATA, Ryo OHMURA, Kiyofumi SUZUKI, Jiro NAGAO


(left) Generating methane hydrate under high pressure
(right) Burning methane hydrate