Ab initio modelling of methane hydrate thermophysical properties
The key thermophysical properties of methane hydrate were determined using ab initio modelling. Using density functional theory, the second-order elastic constants, heat capacity, compressibility, and thermal expansion coefficient were calculated. A wide and relevant range of pressure–temperature conditions were considered, and the structures were assessed for stability using the mean square displacement and radial distribution functions. Methane hydrate was found to be elastically isotropic with a linear dependence of the bulk modulus on pressure. Equally significant, multi-body interactions were found to be important in hydrates, and water–water interactions appear to strongly influence compressibility like in ice Ih. While the heat capacity of hydrate was found to be higher than that of ice, the thermal expansion coefficient was significantly lower, most likely due to the lower rigidity of hydrates. The mean square displacement gave important insight into stability, heat capacity, and elastic moduli, and the radial distribution functions further confirmed stability. The presented results provide a much needed atomistic thermoelastic characterization of methane hydrates and are essential input for the large-scale applications of hydrate detection and production.