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Combining Optical Microscopy and X-ray Computed Tomography Reveals Novel Morphologies and Growth Processes of Methane Hydrate in Sand Pores

Abstract : Understanding the mechanisms involved in the formation and growth of methane hydrate in marine sandy sediments is crucial for investigating the thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior of gas hydrate marine sediments. In this study, high-resolution optical microscopy and synchrotron X-ray computed tomography were used together to observe methane hydrate growing under excess gas conditions in a coarse sandy sediment. The high spatial and complementary temporal resolutions of these techniques allow growth processes and accompanying redistribution of water or brine to be observed over spatial scales down to the micrometre—i.e., well below pore size—and temporal scales below 1 s. Gas hydrate morphological and growth features that cannot be identified by X-ray computed tomography alone, such as hollow filaments, were revealed. These filaments sprouted from hydrate crusts at water–gas interfaces as water was being transported from their interior to their tips in the gas (methane), which extend in the µm/s range. Haines jumps are visualized when the growing hydrate crust hits a water pool, such as capillary bridges between grains or liquid droplets sitting on the substrate—a capillary-driven mechanism that has some analogy with cryogenic suction in water-bearing freezing soils. These features cannot be accounted for by the hydrate pore habit models proposed about two decades ago, which, in the absence of any observation at pore scale, were indeed useful for constructing mechanical and petrophysical models of gas hydrate-bearing sediments
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Submitted on : Monday, September 27, 2021 - 8:22:47 AM
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Thi Le, Michel Bornert, Ross Brown, Patrick Aimedieu, Daniel Broseta, et al.. Combining Optical Microscopy and X-ray Computed Tomography Reveals Novel Morphologies and Growth Processes of Methane Hydrate in Sand Pores. Energies, MDPI, 2021, 14 (18), pp.5672. ⟨10.3390/en14185672⟩. ⟨hal-03354967⟩

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