The topic of gas hydrates crosses various disciplinary fields and is the subject of numerous scientific works, ranging from astrophysics to geosciences, including process engineering and molecular sciences. From a fundamental point of view, the molecular and colloidal structures, the interactions with the natural matrices in which they are formed, as well as the conditions of formation and dissociation of these materials, are scrutinised with a wide range of tools on large scales of time and space. From an application point of view, these materials, long considered and examined only as a nuisance to be avoided – the clogging of natural gas pipelines and the risks of instabilities on the ocean floor that can lead to the generation of tsunamis or be detrimental to the offshore industry – have been seen in recent years as an opportunity because of their many potential applications: Phase change materials for secondary refrigeration and cold storage, capture and separation of CO2 and other acid gases, water purification/de-salination, potential energy resources, etc. The evidence for the existence or not of clathrate hydrates in the interstellar medium is also the subject of much debate in the astrophysics literature, as these compounds may have played a key role in the assembly of building blocks for many extraterrestrial objects. All these topics (physical chemistry, engineering, geoscience, astrophysics) are addressed by the French scientific community, with the involvement of numerous laboratories and research organisations with varied and complementary skills, spread throughout the country.
For several years, this community has shown a willingness to combine their skills through ANR projects (SECOHYA, MI2C, HYDRE, CRISALHYD, HYDFECT), European projects (MIDAS project, action-COST MIGRATE, ERC-EXOWATER, INTERREG-2MERS-CARBON2VALUE) CPER (CLIMIBIO) and involvement in competitiveness clusters (Examples to be added) or technology transfer structures (Inter-Carnot energICs, Axel’One in the Aura region, Aquitaine Science Transfert), and CARNOT institutes (M. I.N.E.S, IRSTEA, BRGM, ISIFoR).
On the strength of these past and current research experiences, this scientific community wishes to go further by creating a CNRS Research Consortium (called GDR) to better exchange and organise itself at national level and to reinforce its visibility at European level. About twenty laboratories/teams have expressed their wish to join this multidisciplinary and clearly defined structure. The proposed GDR is structured in four clusters: a “Molecular Sciences” cluster that will address fundamental issues related to hydrates, around which will gravitate three clusters with more applied vocations: “Astrophysics”, “Geosciences” and “Process Engineering and Technologies”. In addition, the research community attached to the GoR will rely on experimental AND theoretical skills. The equipment involved will be clearly displayed through two “virtual platforms”, listing the modelling tools (ranging from classical thermodynamics to molecular dynamics) and the experimental devices available (from the molecular to the geological scale).
The “hydrate” GDR will bring together laboratories attached to the CNRS and also to EPIC or EPST research organisations such as IFREMER, IFP-EN, INRAE, ENSTA-ParisTech, UPPA, Mines and BRGM. The latter will make contributions in cash and in kind by participating in the operation and management of the GDR.