The West Siberian Scientific and Educational Center in Russia has patented a method for swiftly transforming natural gas into solid granules using biodegradable catalysts. This innovation enables the transportation of gas from fields without the need for pipelines or liquefaction.

Gas hydrate, known by various colloquial names such as combustible ice, snow gas, Arctic coal, and solid gas, appears as artificial snow or loose ice. Found in nature at depths of 200 to 1500 meters in permafrost or in ocean bottoms, it consists of crystalline compounds of methane, ethane, propane, butane, and water. The hydrate can burn, decomposing into water and low molecular weight gas, extracting up to 160 cubic meters of methane from one cubic meter of hydrate.

With over 220 global gas hydrate deposits, China leads in production, extracting 861.4 thousand cubic meters of methane in the first quarter of 2020. In the Russian Arctic, deposits, confirmed at fields like Yamburgskoye and Bovanenkovskoye, reach 1100 trillion cubic meters. However, extraction complexities suggest limited Russian engagement in the next 20-30 years.

As a potential replacement or addition to liquefaction technology, hydrate formation emerges. Russia's shift in hydrocarbon exports to the East makes pipeline installation challenging, making liquefied natural gas (LNG) the prevailing product. Despite the fact that by mid-2023 Russia occupied 8% of the global LNG market, problems in the liquefaction infrastructure require the study of alternative options.

The proposed method involves turning natural gas into solid pellets, eliminating the need for complex and explosive storage containers required for liquefied natural gas. These solid pellets, carrying in conventional refrigerators, can be ignited upon arrival, melting and emitting methane.

While natural gas hydrates grow slowly, their artificial growth in laboratories involves blending water with silicon dioxide, creating dry water. This powder is placed in a reactor, pumped with gas, frozen, and compressed 180 times to transition from a gaseous to a solid phase. Biodegradable thickeners, particularly polyvinyl alcohol and soy lecithin, accelerate the reaction.

Various Russian laboratories, including those in Tyumen and Novosibirsk, have studied gas hydrates for 20-30 years. Collaboration between institutions aims to create a semi-industrial plant for gas hydrate production. Collapsible mobile installations for field development also attract interest, allowing the transfer of infrastructure between fields every ten years. The objective is to enhance the economic feasibility of transportation, storage, and supply technologies beyond laboratory-scale volumes.