Friday, June 4, 2010
The BP Well Operation and Their Problem with 'ice' Clogging
British Petroleum engineers have successfully installed a cover on the leaking well and are trying to siphon oil to surface ships. They have been proceeding cautiously because their previous attempt with this procedure got clogged with a nasty form of ice called "methane hydrate" or "methane clathrate".
Water ice is capable of absorbing an amazing amount of some gases into its structure in "cages". A typical clathrate cage is shown in the inset of this image of a methane clathrate burning. Yes, you can set ice on fire!. The gas burns off leaving the ice structures behind. The gas molecules are stored in cages of H2O molecules, and it's quite amazing how much gas can be stored in these cages.
this article by Galvin Schmidt to be a thoughtful analysis.