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Experimental Studies of the Growth Kinetics of Methane Clathrate Hydrates & Superfluid Hydrodynamics on the Nanoscale

  • Author(s): Botimer, Jeffrey David
  • Advisor(s): Taborek, Peter
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

This thesis details the experimental findings of three distinct research projects. The first studies the growth kinetics of methane clathrate hydrates grown under the influence of multiple factors including surfactants, porous media, substrate wetting properties, and salt content. The second investigates the flow behaviors of superfluid helium through single, high aspect ratio nanopipes. The third models the frequency response of a quartz tuning fork in high pressure normal and superfluid helium and demonstrates how quartz tuning forks can be used as cheap, small, in situ, cryogenic pressure gauges.

The first project reports studies of the kinetics of growth of methane hydrates from liquid water containing small amounts of surfactant (<500 ppm of sodium dodecyl sulfate, SDS). The kinetics are monitored using simultaneous measurements of the uptake of methane detected by a pressure drop in the gas phase, and either visual observations of the amount of liquid water and solid phase in the reaction vessel, or in situ micro-Raman measurements or in situ NMR measurements. These diagnostics show that the uptake of methane and the conversion of liquid water to a solid phase do not occur simultaneously; the uptake of gas always lags the visual and spectroscopic signatures of the disappearance of liquid water and the formation of solid. The evidence suggests that the SDS causes water to form an intermediate immobile solid-like state before combining with the methane to form hydrate. The growth mechanism is related to the surfactant and disappears for low SDS concentrations (<25 ppm). Also reported are studies of the growth rates of methane hydrates as a function of substrate wetting properties, driving force, and growth media.

The second project studies pressure driven flow of superfluid helium through single high aspect ratio glass nanopipes into a vacuum has been studied for a wide range of pressure drop (0-30 atm), reservoir temperature (0.8-2.5K), pipe lengths (1-30mm), and pipe radii (130-230nm). As a function of pressure we observe two distinct flow regimes above and below a critical pressure Pc. For P

The third and final project detailed here measured the quality factor Q and the frequency f of a 32 kHz quartz tuning fork immersed in liquid 4He between 0.9 K and 3.0 K, over pressures ranging from the saturated vapor pressure to ~25 atm. At constant pressure, as a function of temperature, the quality factor and frequency have strong features related to the temperature dependence of the superfluid fraction. At constant temperature, Q depends on the superfluid fraction while the frequency is a smooth function of pressure. The behavior is explained using a simple hydrodynamic model. The liquid helium viscosity is obtained from measured values of Q, and together with tabulated values of the helium density as a function of pressure and temperature, the frequency shift can be parametrized as a function of temperature and pressure. The observed sensitivity is ~7.8 Hz/atm. The quartz tuning fork provides a compact low power method of measuring the pressure in the bulk liquid.

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