Author Topic: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea  (Read 3150 times)

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Marco2001

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Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« on: February 02, 2011, 09:44:41 PM »

Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel
(Methane has been detected on Mars. It's origin is not yet clear...In mars conditions methane should breake-down very fast, yet it's still there, which means there is a large supply of it underground that replenishes it over and over. Whether it's origin biological, geological or is it an earlier residues trapped underground in methane-clathrates, there is one thing certain...it does not come from just any place...it's beying released from underground from certain points [vents]. Morover - ther's a lot of it around. If it's there...why not gather it? It's a free-methane fuel! Most propably methane is trapped in a mineral called methane-clathrate, which can be digged-out (we dig it on Earth too....from deep sea)).





A color-coded map of the release of methane in the northern summer on Mars. Credit: Mumma, et al., NASA

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Methane gas has been detected in the atmosphere of Mars in concentrations of up to several tens of parts per billion. Because methane is unstable in the martian atmosphere, with a lifetime of just a few hundred years, some process on or below the surface must be continuously replacing it. Scientists do not yet know if this process is geological or biological. The methane is not given off uniformly over the whole planet. Instead it emerges as plumes over certain areas that show evidence of ancient ground ice or flowing water (see map). For example, plumes were observed to appear in summer in the northern hemisphere over regions such as east of Arabia Terra, the Nili Fossae region, and the south-east quadrant of Syrtis Major, an ancient volcano 1,200 km (about 745 miles) across.


Artist's concept showing one possibility for how methane might be formed on Mars geologically. Subsurface water, carbon dioxide, and the planet's internal heat combine to release methane that had been trapped in the ice. Credit: NASA/Susan Twardy

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Geology or biology?

Methane in the martian atmosphere is not stable and cannot last more than a few hundred years, because it reacts with hydroxyl ions in the presence of sunlight, forming water and carbon dioxide. On Earth much of the atmospheric methane is produced by methanogenic bacteria (see methanogens) that digest organic matter in areas such as wetlands and waste landfills, and even in the guts of some animals and produce methane as a by-product. There is also methane beneath the Earth's crust that is left over from the formation of hydrocarbons. This old methane is routinely spewed out of mud volcanoes, vents, and bubbling pools, or it slowly seeps out of fissures in Earth's crust. Methane can also be formed during volcanic eruptions and in geothermal reservoirs.

It is still not known if the methane on Mars is due to life or not. On Earth, the conversion of iron oxide (rust) into the serpentine group of minerals creates methane, and on Mars this process could proceed using water, carbon dioxide, and the planet's internal heat. Although we don't have evidence on Mars of active volcanoes today, ancient methane trapped in ice "cages" called clathrates might now be released (see illustration).

If microscopic martian life is producing the methane, it likely resides far below the surface, where it's still warm enough for liquid water to exist. Liquid water, as well as energy sources and a supply of carbon, are necessary for all known forms of life. Mumma pointed to a possible terrestrial analogue for martian microbes: "On Earth, microorganisms thrive 2 to 3 km (about 1.2 to 1.9 miles) beneath the Witwatersrand basin of South Africa, where natural radioactivity splits water molecules into molecular hydrogen and oxygen. The organisms use the hydrogen for energy. It might be possible for similar organisms to survive for billions of years below the permafrost layer on Mars, where water is liquid, radiation supplies energy, and carbon dioxide provides carbon."

Microbes that produced methane from hydrogen and carbon dioxide are believed to have been among the earliest forms of life on Earth. If life ever existed on Mars, it's reasonable to suppose that its metabolism might have involved making methane from martian atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Link to the article: http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/M/Mars_methane.html


Methane-clathrate

Digging clathrate-methane fuel would be an easy way to get methane, which of course is used for various things, like: power-generators, Rovers, chemical-reactors (Sebatier mainly), Fishers-reactions (for creating petroleum parts and medicine), as a fuel for the ERV/MAV and many more.

Poland here. My time: GMT + 1h
Writing a book about Mars. Any ideas? Type to me.
I'am an Astrobiology/Biology student.

profit004

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 09:53:17 PM »
Or rather than risk someone's life to dig up a tiny bit of fuel we can just run sabiter a little while longer using the practically inexhaustible supply of CO2 in the atmosphere and a bit of the waste hydrogen from electrolysis.  =)



thedubman

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2011, 01:48:11 PM »
but..... ;)  It could make a interesting side mission, you could even VERY broadly use that as a basis for finding life on MCO... ie you could say methane was created by bacteria/micro - organisums. So players doing a methane survey quest 'stumble upon' some sorta a life.

Marco2001

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 03:49:10 PM »
We mine with Augar one way or another - just other resources.
Methane-clathrate is a free fuel that simply lies around - why not go and pick it up?
Using sebatier has it's limits...the main limit is: It uses WATER or HYDROGEN which are RARE on Mars. On the other hand - ther's nearly unlimited suplies of clathrates in underground vents.
Sebatier uses a LOT of energy (Double Water electrolysis, cryogenic coolers, charging/heating electrodes etc..).
Sebatier can BREAKE, and untill you fix it...from where will you get methane fuel? You can mine it! 
I can't thing to compare this situation to mining Oil on Earth....why not simply CREATE synthetis Oil? We know how to do it on Earth...we did it in WW2. Why not now? Becouse it's not economical. It's easier to dig the fuel than to create it. And yes...peeple die for Oil.

Poland here. My time: GMT + 1h
Writing a book about Mars. Any ideas? Type to me.
I'am an Astrobiology/Biology student.

profit004

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2011, 02:39:25 AM »
yeah, but without the Sebatier and the corresponding electrolysis you will not have matching supplies of Oxygen to actually burn the fuel, so it does not seem like it would be all that useful.

Hyper

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2011, 10:03:38 AM »
Sabatier and Bosch reactors generate some good things. An entire planet of co2 conversion directly to methane fuel requires nothing more than the machine to work. Oxygen will be our biggest problem. There are rocks there that would release oxygen but the power to recover it would be prohibitive unless it was part of another process we had to perform anyway.

Marco2001

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2011, 01:18:50 AM »
I don't know why I haven't seen it earlier...methane clathrates are even more important than we think (!), and can even pay a key role in human mars exploration!


Why?

Quote from: Marco2001
If it's there...why not gather it? It's a free-methane fuel! Most propably methane is trapped in a mineral called methane-clathrate, which can be digged-out (we dig it on Earth too....from deep sea)).

yeah, but without the Sebatier and the corresponding electrolysis you will not have matching supplies of Oxygen to actually burn the fuel, so it does not seem like it would be all that useful.

Well....the answer is simple. Look closely at the molecule of methane clathate (called also.....methane hydrate ;D).


Is it obvious now?
By mining methane, you gain WATER as a byproduct.
Isn't that just wonderfoul? Fuel ready to use already on Mars, waitng to be mined!

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The average methane clathrate hydrate composition is 1 mole of methane for every 5.75 moles of water, though this is dependent on how many methane molecules "fit" into the various cage structures of the water lattice. The observed density is around 0.9 g/cm3.[5] One litre of methane clathrate solid would therefore contain, on average, 168 litres of methane gas (at STP).[nb 1]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane_clathrate

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Remote detection of subsurface methane clathrate hydrate deposits is difficult. The most effective method would be in situ drilling (Max and Clifford 2000; Chastain and Chevrier 2007), although seismic, electromagnetic, and ground penetrating radar methods have also been proposed (see references in Chastain and Chevrier 2007). Furthermore, since clathrate hydrate deposits on Mars could contain concentrated reservoirs of water, methane, and carbon dioxide, there is great potential for in situ resource utilization by future missions to Mars (Pellenbarg et al. 2003).
http://www.scribd.com/doc/10494415/Methane-on-Mars

http://img3.imageshack.us/i/methaneclathrate.jpg/

http://www.google.pl/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDQQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fsci.esa.int%2Fscience-e%2Fwww%2Fobject%2Fdoc.cfm%3Ffobjectid%3D46083&rct=j&q=Pellenbarg%20et%20al.%202003%20methane%20clathrate%20mars%20colony&ei=GNZUTcrrBcSfOtnHvNgE&usg=AFQjCNG4zM9s9p6W82ZZ310dBk-tu2QcRg&sig2=O-3BTLDtuYa5tF1NYaBRXg&cad=rja

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Implications for Mars Exploration:
On
Earth, hydrate in seafloor sediments and in
permafrost regions holds as much as 10,000 Gt of
carbon, which is on the order of twice as much
conventional gas, coal, and oil, may be sequestered
in Earth’s natural gas hydrates. Hundreds of
millions of dollars are now being spent in learning
how to obtain the natural gas from the hydrate
resource.
The existence of accessible methane hydrate
on Mars would greatly assist the human
exploration of the planet, providing many of the
basic elements necessary for sustaining a longterm
human presence, including: potable water,
fuel for energy and transport, and industrial
feedstock [14, 15].
Thus, the discovery of methane hydrate on
Mars would provide not only insights into its past,
but the foundation for its future human
exploration.
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/earlymars2004/pdf/8083.pdf

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If methane or carbon dioxide hydrate deposits can be identified on Mars, their location
may provide the determining factor in selecting habitation and colonization sites there because
they will contain the basic elements necessary for human habitation: water, power, synthetic
carbon-based materials for shelter, and, eventually, foodstuffs. Thus, early research such as
seismic experiments for determining the character and distribution of sedimentary and diagenetic
materials (such as water-ice, gas hydrates, and other mineral deposits) and exploratory drilling,
should, in our view, be undertaken as a matter of urgency. Any locally derived materials used in
the inhabited installations will not accrue the huge energy costs of bringing such materials from
Earth. For true colonization to be contemplated, the inhabitants of Mars must become as selfsustaining
as possible, as rapidly as possible.
http://www.mdswater.com/pdfs/2_Marshydrates.pdf
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 01:43:15 AM by Marco2001 »

Poland here. My time: GMT + 1h
Writing a book about Mars. Any ideas? Type to me.
I'am an Astrobiology/Biology student.

profit004

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2011, 11:42:20 AM »
Now there is a worthy reason to mine that.

Alright I will give you that this is a good find marco.     We will have a swimming pool on mars yet =)

The methane itself could be used or further polymerized, but the water from it would be the actual thing we would want.

Marco2001

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2011, 12:05:21 PM »
A little idea I had...Hyperia is located on-top of a frozen lake. Pumps inject heat, and we gather the steam. Indeed if a lake froze on Mars conditions, there is a big possibility that it it will contain methane-clathrates. So we could gather not only water inside the base, but methane aswell! A simple cryogenic condenser would separate, and liquify the methane released by the clathrates, and it would be ready to use.  :)

Poland here. My time: GMT + 1h
Writing a book about Mars. Any ideas? Type to me.
I'am an Astrobiology/Biology student.

thedubman

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Re: Methane on Mars...digging clathrates for fuel - Idea
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2011, 05:10:24 PM »
How about adding a small turbine type system into the methane mining pumps, to make use of the steam also? under pressure the micro steam turbine could generate us some power also.