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Charting the Future of Methane Hydrate Research in the United States
recommendations for scientific oversight and research priorities that would help the program meet those goals.
MEETING THE GOALS OF THE METHANE HYDRATE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2000
Projects Funded by the Act
In general, DOE implemented and followed the requirements of the act. The DOE was authorized to conduct studies in several areas as mandated by the act (Appendix B; P.L. 106-193, Section 3b) (see Box ES.1).
With respect to the research areas described in the act, the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program funded research on identifying, exploring, assessing, and developing methane hydrate as a source of energy (A); assisting in developing technologies for efficient and environmentally sound development (B); developing technologies to reduce the risk of drilling (F); and conducting exploratory drilling (G). No projects have been funded in the area of transportation and storage. None of the projects emphasized education and training, and research only minimally addressed the area of environmental impacts of degassing (decomposition as the solid state hydrate transforms to the gaseous state), which include climate change.
To meet the goals of the act in the future, the DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program should strengthen its contribution to education and training through funding of postdoctoral fellowships and should increase efforts in basic research to address the relationship between gas hydrate and climate change. It is, however, appropriate that some research areas mentioned in the act (e.g., transportation) receive no support since they are peripheral to the primary objectives of the act.
The DOE Methane Hydrate R&D Program began in FY 2000. The project selection process during the course of the first three years of the program has varied. At this time, there are six solicitation or project types currently being funded by the program: (1) targeted solicitations; (2) broad-based solicitations; (3) national laboratory projects; (4) interagency projects; (5) National Energy Technology Laboratory in-house projects; and (6) other nonfederal government procurements. Each