Transitional Energy Technologies

The transition to a low carbon energy economy will take many decades and in the interim it may be necessary to use transitional technologies in some parts of the world. Quintessa has technical and strategic consultancy expertise that can provide independent assessments of the efficacy and risks of novel geologically based energy technologies.

One example is the potential exploitation of methane hydrates (also called methane clathrates, hydromethane, methane ice, fire ice, natural gas hydrate or gas hydrate). Methane hydrates are found in the shallow marine geosphere, deep sedimentary structures and in outcrops on the ocean floor. Quintessa provides research and assessment services particularly in the application of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical (THMC) modelling to improve understanding of the hydrate system and its potential exploitation.

A large percentage of the global carbon inventory is thought to exist in methane and other light hydrocarbons trapped in hydrates. In the past, release of methane gas from hydrates has been linked to rapid climate change and potentially could become important in modern day climate warming and ocean acidification. As noted on the BBC website, research is needed to understand if methane hydrates are a dirty fuel or energy saviour.

Quintessa has experience in modelling methane hydrates using TOUGH+Hydrate software.  However, our most recent work has made use of Quintessa's general purpose modelling tool, QPAC, with processes including multiphase fluid flow, heat flow, hydrate stability equilibria, methane dissolution, salt dissolution/precipitation and diffusion. Additional coupled processes such as CO2-CH4 exchange and deformation of sediments can be implemented in QPAC giving a flexible tool to simulate the behaviour of hydrates for problems relating to resources, climate change and slope stability. As an example, QPAC results have been compared with output from the other teams taking part in the Methane Hydrate Reservoir Simulator Code Comparison Study coordinated by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the US Geological Survey (USGS).