Past, Present and Future of Gas Hydrates

13 May 2015 from 14:00 to 18:00 hrs
KNAW, Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
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Academy symposium honouring and celebrating the 95th birthday of Professor J.H. van der Waals

'At first sight it looks like snow; but it contains more than frozen water. It contains gas. Gas hydrates are formed when water is cooled under pressure in the presence of a gas, like methane.' It was with these sentences that a popular 2001 review in Chemie achter de dijken began, authored by Cor Peters and Joan van der Waals.

Gas hydrates form naturally in shallow sub-sea sediments or permafrost regions and contain vast reserves of methane, much more than all the gas stored in conventional oil and gas reservoirs or available from newer non-conventional sources such as shale gas. Initially seen as esoteric, their structure became known in the 1950s. It was Joan van der Waals, who – at a meeting of the Faraday Society in April 1953 – suggested that gas hydrates should be seen not as compounds but as a gaseous solution that merited exploration. During his career at Shell and long thereafter, Van der Waals remained intrigued by gas hydrates and is generally considered the ‘grandfather’ of gas hydrate research. In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH) in Edinburgh.

The Academy will mark Van der Waals’ 95th birthday this spring by organising an afternoon symposium on ‘The Past, Present and Future of Gas Hydrates’. Three experts will review current estimates, applications and challenges in the field of gas hydrates .

The symposium is meant for researchers working in academia and industry but also for students of chemistry, physics, earth sciences and technical sciences. 


  • Jakob de Swaan Arons, Delft University of Technology – Introduction
  • Geoffrey Maitland, Imperial College London – Natural gas hydrates: the effect of embedded minerals and confinement
  • Pacelli Zitha, Delft University of Technology – Exploration and exploitation of natural gas hydrates
  • Cor Peters, Eindhoven University of Technology / Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi – Gas hydrates: their potential industrial applications and societal impact


Herman van Bekkum, Henk Lekkerkerker, Jan Reedijk