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Marine clathrate mining and sediment separation

United States Patent

April 3, 2001
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
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A method and apparatus for mining of hydrocarbons from a hydrocarbon-containing clathrate such as is found on the ocean floor. The hydrocarbon containing clathrate is disaggregated from sediment by first disrupting clathrate-containing strata using continuous mining means such as a rotary tilling drum, a fluid injector, or a drill. The clathrate-rich portion of sediment thus disrupted from the sea floor strata are carried through the apparatus to regions of relative lower pressure and/or relative higher temperature where the clathrate further dissociates into component hydrocarbons and water. The hydrocarbon is recovered with the assistance of a gas that is injected and buoys the hydrocarbon containing clathrate helping it to rise to regions of lower pressure and temperature where hydrocarbon is released. The sediment separated from the hydrocarbon returns to the ocean floor.
Borns; David J. (Albuquerque, NM), Hinkebein; Thomas E. (Albuquerque, NM), Lynch; Richard W. (Albuquerque, NM), Northrop; David A. (Albuquerque, NM)
Sandia Corporation (Albuquerque, NM)
09/ 209,219
December 10, 1998
This invention was made with Government support under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.