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Thermal Conductivity of Methane Hydrate from Experiment and Molecular Simulation

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journal contribution
posted on 22.11.2007, 00:00 by Eilis J. Rosenbaum, Niall J. English, J. Karl Johnson, David W. Shaw, Robert P. Warzinski
A single-sided transient plane source technique has been used to determine the thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity of a compacted methane hydrate sample over the temperature range of 261.5−277.4 K and at gas-phase pressures ranging from 3.8 to 14.2 MPa. The average thermal conductivity, 0.68 ± 0.01 W/(m·K), and thermal diffusivity, 2.04 × 10-7 ± 0.04 × 10-7 m2/s, values are, respectively, higher and lower than previously reported values. Equilibrium molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of methane hydrate have also been performed in the NPT ensemble to estimate the thermal conductivity for methane compositions ranging from 80 to 100% of the maximum theoretical occupation, at 276 K and at pressures ranging from 0.1 to 100 MPa. Calculations were performed with three rigid potential models for water, namely, SPC/E, TIP4P-Ew, and TIP4P-FQ, the last of which includes the effects of polarizability. The thermal conductivities predicted from MD simulations were in reasonable agreement with experimental results, ranging from about 0.52 to 0.77 W/(m·K) for the different potential models with the polarizable water model giving the best agreement with experiments. The MD simulation method was validated by comparing calculated and experimental thermal conductivity values for ice and liquid water. The simulations were in reasonable agreement with experimental data. The simulations predict a slight increase in the thermal conductivity with decreasing methane occupation of the hydrate cages. The thermal conductivity was found to be essentially independent of pressure in both simulations and experiments. Our experimental and simulation thermal conductivity results provide data to help predict gas hydrate stability in sediments for the purposes of production or estimating methane release into the environment due to gradual warming.