Inhibition of Methane Hydrate Formation by Ice-Structuring Proteins

Lars Jensen, Hans Ramløv, Kaj Thomsen, Nicolas von Solms

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In the oil and gas industry there is ample motivation for moving toward greener kinetic inhibitors of gas hydrates as many of those used today suffer from poor biodegradability. In this work, we have investigated experimentally whether ice-structuring proteins (ISPs) found in fish and insect, assumed biodegradable, are capable of inhibiting the growth of methane hydrate (a structure I hydrate). The ISPs investigated were type III HPLC12 (originally identified in ocean pout) and ISP type III found in meal worm (Tenebrio molitor). These were compared to polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) a well-known kinetic hydrate inhibitor. The results revealed that adding ISP in sufficient amounts caused the appearance of an initial nonlinear growth period. At a certain point during the growth process the growth pattern changed to linear which is identical to the growth observed for methane hydrate in the absence of inhibitors. The profile of the nonlinear growth was concentration-dependent but also dependent on the stirring rate. ISP type III HPLC12 decreased the growth rate of methane hydrate during the linear growth period by 17−75% at concentrations of 0.01−0.1 wt % (0.014−0.14 mM) while ISP from Tenebrio molitor and PVP decreased the growth rate by 30% and 39% at concentrations of 0.004 wt % (0.005 mM) and 0.1 wt % (0.1 mM), respectively. Considering the low concentration of Tenebrio molitor ISP used, these results indicate that ISP from Tenebrio molitor is the most effective hydrate inhibitor among those investigated. Thermal hysteresis ice formation experiments revealed that ISP from Tenebrio molitor causes higher thermal hysteresis for ice formation compared to type III ISP identified in ocean pout while PVP did not cause thermal hysteresis. This indicates that there might be a direct relationship between ISP performance for ice and hydrate inhibition, and that thermal hysteresis experiments can be used to screen ISPs as kinetic inhibitors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial & Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1486-1492
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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