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Inorganic and methane clathrates: Versatility of guest–host compounds for energy harvesting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 August 2015

Lakshmi Krishna*
Department of Physics, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401, USA
Carolyn A. Koh*
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401, USA
a)Address all correspondence to Carolyn A. Koh at or Lakshmi Krishna at
a)Address all correspondence to Carolyn A. Koh at or Lakshmi Krishna at
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This review article evaluates the structure–property relations of inorganic clathrates and clathrate hydrates and their potential role in energy harvesting. There is potential cross-fertilization between the two research areas.

Guest–host clathrate compounds exhibit unique structural and physical properties, which lead to their versatile roles in energy applications. Prominent classes of clathrate compounds are gas hydrates and inorganic clathrates. That said, there is limited cross-fertilization between the clathrate hydrate and inorganic clathrate communities, with researchers in the respective fields being less informed on the other field. Yet the structures and unique guest–host interactions in both these compounds are common important features of these clathrates. Common features and procedures can inspire and inform development between the compound classes, which may be important to the technological advancements for the different clathrate materials, e.g., structure characterization techniques and guest–host dynamics in which the “guest” tends to be imprisoned in the host structure, until external forces are applied. Conversely, the diversity in chemical compositions of these two classes of materials leads to the different applications from methane capture and storage to converting waste heat to electricity (thermoelectrics). This article highlights the structural and physical similarities and differences of inorganic and methane clathrates. The most promising state-of-the-art applications of the clathrates are highlighted for harvesting energy from methane (clathrate) hydrate deposits under the ocean and for inorganic clathrates as promising thermoelectric materials.

Copyright © Materials Research Society 2015 

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