New energy source: methane ice that burns

Various technical topics related to science, energy, climate change and coal & gas.

New energy source: methane ice that burns

Postby HVPA_research » Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:11 am

Right now there is a lot of excitement among the share market people about the methane hydrates The Facts on Methane Gas Hydrates -How to Avoid this Natural Gas Investment Sinkhole
The Ice that Burns.Last November, a U.S. research team reported that approximately 85.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be potentially recovered from gas hydrates located in Alaska's Northern Slope.

So what exactly are gas hydrates? According to the USGS, gas hydrates are a crystalline solid consisting of a gas molecule surrounded by a cage of water molecules. These hydrates are found in ocean-floor sediments at depths of more than 500 meters. The gas hydrates are able to form under the cold temperatures and high pressures found on the ocean floor.
In other words, we're talking about chunks of methane-filled ice that scientists are able to collect.

What the article does not mention is that methane hydrates are just another carbon-based fossil fuel and a very dangerous one too. I am sure that the author of this excellent article is well aware of this danger but amongst the share market advisers this is not much of a priority. The emphasis is, naturally enough: ' Is this technology feasible and can we make money from it now?'

The earlier article of the same author is more balanced and goes into details
Where You Can Find Gas to Fuel the World for 4,000 More Years
... Unless you're talking to one of the world's few oceanic geologists, "methane hydrates" would most likely be an unfamiliar term. Yet these massive deposits of methane gas could turn into the next major energy source. And with the right push, they could be worth an inestimable amount of money one day soon...

... Imagine this: A possible energy source equivalent to 400,000,000,000,000,000-that's 400 quintillion-cubic feet of methane gas! At current consumption rates, that's enough to supply the entire world's demand for another 4,000 years ...

Unfortunately, there are problems:
... The largest downside to methane hydrate lies in the fact that it is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas capable of containing 20% more heat than carbon dioxide. This represents a powerful risk in mining production, since an inadvertent release of a large deposit could result in a dramatic effect of global temperatures.

There is another hazard associated with the mining techniques: Drilling deep ocean deposits could cause these highly pressurized pockets of gas to burst, endangering the sediments that support the drilling equipment and jeopardizing the platforms' stability.

In another example of the dangers that can result from unintentional methane releases, scientists have found evidence in the earth's past of a period of 55,000 years during which a large methane release from the ocean floor caused water temperatures to rise more than 5 degrees off the coast of Africa, making them so acidic that many bottom-dwelling species became extinct. ...

In other words, this is a technology that could destroy life on our planet. Are we comfortable to leave it all to people around the share markets?
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