Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

Brian Anderson

Committee Co-Chair

Charter Stinespring

Committee Member

Yong Yang


Methane hydrates represent a vast and untapped fossil fuel resource underlying large portions of the world's artic continental surfaces and sub-sea continental shelves. These hydrates are crystalline solids that consist of methane molecules surrounded by cages of interacting water molecules, similar to ice. Methane hydrates occur naturally, where temperature and pressure conditions favor their formation. In order to utilize these resources, methods must be developed to determine the conditions most favorable to hydrate extraction. One important condition is permeability and how it is affected by hydrates. Due to the difficulty and cost of field studies, the study of laboratory-synthesized hydrates is favored. The purpose of this research is to develop a microfluidic-chip-based model to study the formation and dissociation of methane hydrates. The chosen microfluidic chip mimics a porous media, allowing permeability studies to be performed. This use of a microfluidic chip also allows real-time visualization of hydrate formation, and accurate analysis to determine hydrate saturation levels generated in the model. Peltier plates and PID controllers add temperature control to the model to allow for profiling of hydrate formation and permeability under different experimental conditions. This model is unique in that it allows for a simultaneous correlation between permeability and hydrate saturation levels, a feature not previously available in laboratory-based hydrate models.