Mechanical Instability of Methane Hydrate-Mineral Interface Systems

PQ Cao and TS Li and FL Ning and JY Wu, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 13, 46043-46054 (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.1c08114

Massive methane hydrates occur on sediment matrices in nature. Therefore, sediment-based methane hydrate systems play an essential role in the society and hydrate community, including energy resources, global climate changes, and geohazards. However, a fundamental understanding of mechanical properties of methane hydrate-mineral interface systems is largely limited due to insufficient experimental techniques. Herein, by using large-scale molecular simulations, we show that the mechanical properties of methane hydrate-mineral (silica, kaolinite, and Wyoming- type montmorillonite) interface systems are strongly dictated by the chemical components of sedimentary minerals that determine interfacial microstructures between methane hydrates and minerals. The tensile strengths of hydrate-mineral systems are found to decrease following the order of Wyoming-type montmorillonite- > silica- > kaolinite-based methane hydrate systems, all of which show a brittle failure at the interface between methane hydrates and minerals under tension. In contrast, upon compression, methane hydrates decompose into water and methane molecules, resulting from a large strain-induced mechanical instability. In particular, the failure of Wyoming-type montmorillonite- based methane hydrate systems under compression is characterized by a sudden decrease in the compressive stress at a strain of around 0.23, distinguishing it from those of silica- and kaolinite-based methane hydrate systems under compression. Our findings thus provide a molecular insight into the potential mechanisms of mechanical instability of gas hydrate-bearing sediment systems on Earth.

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