In response to DOE’s request for the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a review of the Program, as mandated in P.L. 109-58, the NRC established the Committee on Assessment of the Department of Energy’s Methane Hydrate Research and Development Program to address several issues including

  • Brief review of the research conducted by the Program from 2000 to 2005;

  • Detailed review of the research supported by the Program since 2005;

  • Evaluation of the Program’s review mechanisms and of the processes used by the Program to facilitate collaborations with other agencies, academia, research laboratories, industry, the international community, and the Program’s advisory board;

  • Evaluation of future methane hydrate research and development needs and programmatic changes necessary to meet these needs; and

  • Recommendations regarding (a) the suitability of methane hydrate as a significant contributor to the U.S. natural gas supply by 2025, (b) the effective coordination of the Program’s domestic and international collaborations, and (c) graduate education and training in this field of research.

This report constitutes the committee’s response to the DOE request and is intended for nonspecialists interested in future, environmentally and economically viable energy options which include national efforts to understand and develop methane gas contained in methane hydrate.


The overarching Program goal is to stimulate the development of knowledge and technology necessary for commercial production of methane from methane hydrate in a safe and environmentally responsible way. The majority of the Program’s modest resources are directed toward research

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