A Phase-Field Approach to Modeling Hydrate Formation on Methane Gas Bubbles in a Water Column

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Xiaojing Fu1, Luis Cueto-Felgueroso2, William F Waite3, Carolyn D Ruppel3 and Ruben Juanes2, (1)MIT-Civil & Environ Engrg, Somerville, MA, United States, (2)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States, (3)US Geological Survey, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Methane hydrates are water-based crystalline solids, where gas molecules are trapped inside the lattice structure formed by water. Most commonly found in deep ocean floors where low temperature and high pressure are primal conditions for hydrate to form, gas hydrates contain most of the world's mobile carbon and yet it remains an important and open question how methane leakage from gas hydrate impacts ocean and the atmosphere. While current work focus on the breakdown of gas hydrate in marine environment and the the release of methane from seafloor, few studies explore the fate of a single or a plume of methane bubbles when entering the water column after the release. We propose to study the fate of an individual and a series of methane bubbles through mathematical modeling, specifically using a phase-field approach. Phase-field modeling is a mathematical framework that describes systems that are out of thermodynamic equilibrium. First introduced in the context of solidification process and phase transitions, it has since been adopted in the field of multiphase flow. In this work, we present a new phase-field formulation for multiphase/multicomponent flows that allows us to model the fate of methane bubbles in the water system as a nonequilibrium process.