Test specimens of methane hydrate were grown under static conditions by combining cold, pressurized CH4 gas with H2O ice grains, then warming the system to promote the reaction CH4 (g) + 6H2O (s???l) ??? CH4??6H2O. Hydrate formation evidently occurs at the nascent ice/liquid water interface, and complete reaction was achieved by warming the system above 271.5 K and up to 289 K, at 25-30 MPa, for approximately 8 hours. The resulting material is pure methane hydrate with controlled grain size and random texture. Fabrication conditions placed the H2O ice well above its melting temperature before reaction completed, yet samples and run records showed no evidence for bulk melting of the ice grains. Control experiments using Ne, a non-hydrate-forming gas, verified that under otherwise identical conditions, the pressure reduction and latent heat associated with ice melting is easily detectable in our fabrication apparatus. These results suggest that under hydrate-forming conditions, H2O ice can persist metastably at temperatures well above its melting point. Methane hydrate samples were then tested in constant-strain-rate deformation experiments at T= 140-200 K, Pc= 50-100 MPa, and ????= 10-4-10-6 s-1. Measurements in both the brittle and ductile fields showed that methane hydrate has measurably different strength than H2O ice, and work hardens to a higher degree compared to other ices as well as to most metals and ceramics at high homologous temperatures. This work hardening may be related to a changing stoichiometry under pressure during plastic deformation; x-ray analyses showed that methane hydrate undergoes a process of solid-state disproportionation or exsolution during deformation at conditions well within its conventional stability field.
Additional publication details
Synthesis of polycrystalline methane hydrate, and its phase stability and mechanical properties at elevated pressure