Methane Hydrates: A Dilemma for the Pipeline Industry

Sometimes the word methane carries with it a negative connotation, but if there’s a word or combination of words to trump it, it’s “methane hydrate,” at least if you’re in the piping industry that is. While methane hydrates can be found naturally occurring in the deep abys of the ocean bottom (and could serve as a good energy source) when it comes to gas lines, there’s nothing good to say about them.

 

Methane Hydrates

What are Methane Hydrates?

In terms of simplicity, a methane hydrate is a combination of methane gas and water. When these two combine at freezing temperatures, they form a solid methane hydrate. Interestingly enough, these crystal-like rocks form naturally at the depths of the sea. And in cases of potential energy sources, well, methane hydrates could be a thing of the future. However, when it comes to the piping industry, these rocks just plain get in the way.

 

Methane Solids in Your Pipes

In the case of the piping industry, methane hydrates can put a stop on gas flow like plaque can put a halt on blood flow in our arteries. When natural gas passes through piping equipment at temperatures near or below freezing, the buildup of condensation and the contraction of gas molecules create these gnarly solids we’ve been talking about. When these hydrates buildup in pipelines, especially at transition points like valves, manifolds, and instrumentation, they can pose a substantial risk to continued operation. In fact, they can outright stop it in its tracks.

So what’s the solution? It’s a simple one. It’s heat. Adding heat to a pipeline can keep temperatures at the ideal level and will entirely prevent the formation of methane hydrates. When adding regulated and even heat distribution to your equipment in the form valve heaters, manifold heaters, and instrumentation heaters, hydrate formation is no longer a problem. Thankfully, this is one of the major areas Powerblanket assists the piping industry with. Our valve, manifold, and instrumentation heaters offer the easiest and most efficient solutions to heat maintenance on a natural gas or liquid pipeline. So if hydrate formation is a dilemma that keeps you up at night, reach out to Powerblanket today, so you can start sleeping better.

 

Valve Heaters

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