USM Professor believes hydrates situation can be fixed - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

USM Professor believes hydrates situation can be fixed

Photo Source: Dr. Ross Chapman, Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium, University of Victoria, Canada Photo Source: Dr. Ross Chapman, Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium, University of Victoria, Canada

GULF OF MEXICO (WLOX) - The hydrates situation that caused BP's containment effort to fail Saturday is something USM Marine Sciences professor Dr. Vernon Asper understands. Asper has been in the Gulf of Mexico for days tracking the Coastal Crisis and has studied hydrates.

Asper told WLOX News in an email from the Gulf, "Frankly, we're amazed that they had problems with it because they deal with this issue all the time, and we thought they had it licked, even if we didn't."

Asper said the gas hydrates causing issues with the containment box are precisely the phenomenon his group has been studying for 10 years.

He said his graduate student did his thesis on the rates at which methane is coming out of the sea floor at this site and built a gadget similar to a miniature version of the containment box to measure it. When he placed his gadget over a gas vent, it instantly filled up with hydrate ice.

Asper said you need four things to form hydrates:

  • Gas (methane or similar)
  • Water
  • Pressure
  • Cold temperatures

Asper said they have all of them at the leak site.

Dr. Asper said to combat hydrate formation, they'll need to remove one of them, which he said, "can be done, but it's not easy."

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