Case 14446

Hydrate-phobic Pipe Surfaces


Hydrophobicity, surface energy, adhesion strength


Deep-sea oil and gas exploration


Hydrates that form in deep-sea oil and gas exploration cause plugging of flow-lines, valves, etc leading to flow restrictions and catastrophic failures.


This invention proposes to reduce hydrate formation in deep-sea O&G exploration pipes by increasing the pipe hydrophobicity. It is found that hydrate adhesion decreases with surface energy, and tailoring acid base components of surface energy could further optimize surfaces for lower hydrate adhesion. Up to 5 times reduction in adhesion strength with low surface energy coatings was measured.

  • Reduce expensive chemical and thermal treatment for flow assurance
  • Improve subsea system reliability and flow assurance
  • Extend pipe, valve & other components’ life
  • Prevent catastrophic failures, enable ultra-deep water exploration by improving flow assurance


Intellectual Property:

  • PCT Patent Application PCT/US2011/049187 filed on August 25, 2011
  • US Patent Application 13/218104 filed on August 25, 2011
  • US Patent Application 13/218095 filed on August 25, 2011
  • Publications:

    MIT News (4/12/2012): “New method to prevent undersea ice clogs: Surface coatings developed by MIT researchers could inhibit buildup of methane hydrates that can block deep-sea oil and gas wells”

    Last revised: October 20, 2011

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