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Etude expérimentale des propriétés mécaniques et de la microstructure des sédiments contenant des hydrates de méthane

Abstract : Methane hydrates (MHs), being solid ice-like compounds of methane gas and water, form naturally at high pressure and low temperature in marine or permafrost settings. They are being considered as an alternative energy resource (mainly methane hydrate-bearing sand, MHBS) but also a source of geo-hazards and climate change (MHs in both coarse and fine sediments). Knowledge of physical/mechanical properties of sediments containing MHs, depending considerably on hydrate morphologies and pore-habits, is of the importance to minimize the environmental impacts of future exploitations of methane gas from MHBS. Existing experimental works mainly focus on synthetic samples due to challenges to get cored intact methane hydrate-bearing sediment samples. Various methods have been proposed for MH formation in sandy sediments to mimic natural MHBS, but without much success. The main interests of this thesis are to investigate morphologies and pore-habits of MHs formed in synthetic MHBS at various scales and to study the effects of MHs (MH morphology and MH saturation) on the mechanical properties of MHBS.Two MH formation methods (modified from two methods existing in the literature) have been first proposed to create MHs in sandy sediments at different pore-habits. At the macroscopic scale, MH pore-habits have been predicted via comparisons between sonic wave velocities, measured and that calculated based on rock physic models. The effects of MHs formed following the two proposed methods (at different hydrate saturations) on the mechanical properties of MHBS were investigated by triaxial tests. Furthermore, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has been used to investigate the kinetics of MH formation, MH distribution along with sample height and also MH dissociation following the depressurization method which has been considered as the most economical method for MH production from MHBS. A temperature cycle in undrained conditions was supposed to not only complete MH redistribution in pore space after the water saturation of the sample at high hydrate saturation but also make MHs distributed more homogeneously in the sample even at low hydrate saturation. Furthermore, the mechanical properties of sediments (e.g. stiffness, strength) were found higher at higher MH saturation.At the grain scale, the MH morphologies and pore habits in sandy sediments were observed by X-Ray Computed Tomography (XRCT, at Navier laboratory, Ecole des Ponts ParisTech) and Synchrotron XRCT (SXRCT, at Psiche beamline of Synchrotron SOLEIL). It has been really challenging due to not only the need of special experimental setups (needing both high pressure and low temperature controls) but also poor XRCT, SXRCT image contrast between methane hydrate and water. Specific experimental setups and scan conditions were then developed for pore-scale investigations of MH growth and MH morphologies in sandy sediments by using XRCT, SXRCT. Besides, a new method has been developed for accurate determination of volumetric fractions of a three-phase media from XRCT images. Observations (at better spatial and temporal resolution) via Optical Microscopy (in cooperation with the University of Pau) were finally used to confirm diverse MH morphologies in sandy sediments. Comparisons between observed MH morphologies, pore habits, and existing idealized models have been discussed. Methane hydrate formation in sandy sediments was supposed to be an unstable and complex process. Different types of MH morphologies and pore habits could exist in the sample. It seems vital that numerical studies on the mechanical behavior of gas hydrates in sediments, based on four idealized hydrate pore-habits, should take into account realistic hydrate morphologies and pore habits.Keywords:Methane hydrates, sandy sediments, formation, dissociation, morphologies, pore-habits, mechanical properties, XRCT, SXRCT, optical microscopy, triaxial tests, rock physic model
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Thi Xiu Le. Etude expérimentale des propriétés mécaniques et de la microstructure des sédiments contenant des hydrates de méthane. Matériaux. Université Paris-Est, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019PESC1039⟩. ⟨tel-02884782v2⟩

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