The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M), one of the prestigious higher education institutions in the country, is no doubt a pride of Chennai. It has already brought many laurels to the city. The latest is — researchers at the IIT-M are developing new techniques for extracting methane from natural gas hydrates from ice like cages in Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters where 1,900 trillion cubic metres of methane gas lie untapped. Promising results from their research were published in leading international journals such as Energy and Fuels and Applied Energy recently.
There has been worldwide interest in the development of techniques to extract methane gas trapped in ice-like crystalline cages called ‘gas hydrates,’ which were present in shallow sediments along continental coastlines. According to the institute, hydrates are particularly promising methane sources in India because nearly 1,900 trillion cubic meters of methane gas lie untapped in these cages within the waters of the Indian EEZ, which is 1,500 times more than country’s present gas reserve. The Ministry of Earth Sciences reported that Krishna-Godavari basin and Andaman
Basin have large amounts of gas hydrates.
This IIT-M research towards developing techniques to extract methane from gas hydrates could enable indigenous supply of natural gas and potentially lighten the nation’s natural gas import burden. The research was headed by Dr Jitendra Sangwai, Professor (Petroleum Engineering), Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT-M, who studies state-of-the-art processes used to recover crude oil from offshore reservoirs in India, and includes research scholars Pawan Gupta and Vishnu C. His research was being funded by IIT-M and the Department of Science and Technology. More such researches should be backed by the government and private organisations to break new grounds.