Sustainable Alternatives to Conventional Techniques for Hydrate Prevention

So far, the natural gas transportation industry has been employing different mechanical (e.g., injection of hot oil or glycol, jacketing), electrical (e.g., electric heaters), and chemical methods (e.g., injection of alcohols) to deal with this problem (Carroll 2003). The first two methods, mechanical and electrical, are more desirable in a sense that they are more environmentally friendly as compared to the chemical methods. However, the problem with these methods is that they become less feasible and are exorbitantly costly in the presently explored gas fields, in the extreme conditions of deep seas, and in remote permafrost locations.

In the chemical hydrate inhibition methods, different chemicals are used, e.g., alcohols, glycols etc. The concentrations and the volumes used of these chemicals are not fixed and are dependant upon the conditions of the environment (Weast 1978). These chemicals are divided into different groups (e.g., thermodynamic inhibitors, kinetic inhibitors, and specifically the low-dose hydrate inhibitors) on the basis of their functioning mechanisms (e.g., thermodynamic inhibitors consist of methanol and glycols). Therefore, these inhibitors are used alternately in varied circumstances and operating conditions. However, it would be appropriate to state here that none of these inhibitors have perfect results even in conditions deemed favorable to the use of that specific kind of inhibitor. Apart from their functional ineffectiveness, almost all of them have been proven to be a detriment to the environment. They are not only hazardous in terms of physical leaks and spills, but also their mixing with natural gas has dangerous consequences for the environment in the long term.

The problems of hydrate formation can be addressed with two possible solutions. The first solution is the production of the same conventional chemicals, such as methanol, ethylene amine, MEA, DEA, and TEA, from reactants that are present in nature. The other is getting rid of the presently used conventional chemicals (as described above) altogether and use alternates that are taken from nature. The suggested solutions, if proven applicable and practical, would not only eliminate the toxicity but also help decrease the costs of the overall process.

The proposition of a low cost, universally adaptable, applicable, and environment-friendly solution can be achieved only through a fundamental change in the present scientific thinking, research, and application setup. In the present setup, it is perceived that "chemicals are chemicals," which generally means that if the compositions of the chemicals are the same, their properties in both the long term and the short term should be the same. This perception does not take into account the fact that chemicals with the same chemical compositions but different formation pathways can have completely different properties.

Even if it were possible to reproduce a molecule, it would not have the same temporal function as the one that it is being compared with. Then, the molecule would not interact the same way because the surrounding environment will have an impact. Two molecules are identical only if they are the same function of time and their surrounding is also identical. In an open system, that would be an absurdity. Miralai (2006) recently established this fundamental trait of nature and proposed a number of natural additives that can replace artificial additives. In this, care was taken to ensure the natural additives are truly natural. Even during the extraction process, natural solvents are used. Even though once a single artificial molecule has been introduced it is impossible to get back the original natural world, his work showed that, with the help of nature, we do not have to get the old world back. The nature of nature is such that we can move on and even claim an earth that is cleaner than before.

One of the greatest pieces of disinformation spread widely throughout contemporary scientific research is that there are no serious or other deleterious consequences, flowing from infinite and freely-chosen manipulations of temporal functions applied to the processing of materials in isolation from nature, for the environment and actual physical nature. That so little has appeared in the literature about the anti-nature consequences of synthetic chemical processes and their outputs is powerful testimony about the effective public relations deployed in favor and support of petroleum refining and its by-products.

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