2013-03-12. Are methane hydrates the next big energy source? Japan hopes so

posted Mar 17, 2013, 9:12 PM by Alan Gould
| Brad Plumer, Washington Post. Relevant to GSS Energy Use chapter 3. Excerpt: Japan is in a tough spot, energy-wise. The nation imports nearly all of its oil and natural gas. Most of its nuclear reactors have been shut down after Fukushima. Wind and solar are still in the early stages of ramping up. ...Japan is currently trying to tap into undersea deposits of methane hydrates — also known as “fire ice” — in hopes of converting the trapped methane into usable natural gas. On Tuesday, Japan announced a major new breakthrough. For the first time, a team aboard the drilling ship Chikyu had successfully extracted gas from a layer of methane hydrates 1,000 feet below the seabed in the Eastern Nankai Trough. ... Methane hydrates are essentially cage-like lattices of water molecules that contain methane, the chief ingredient in natural gas. They can be found either beneath the seafloor or underneath Arctic permafrost ...gas hydrates could contain between 10,000 trillion cubic feet to more than 100,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Some of that gas will never be accessible at reasonable prices. But if even a fraction of that total can be commercially extracted, that’s an enormous amount. To put this in context, U.S. shale reserves are estimated to contain 827 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. ...The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there’s more carbon trapped inside gas hydrates than is contained in all known reserves of fossil fuels.... See full article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/12/japan-tries-to-unlock-the-worlds-biggest-source-of-carbon-based-fuel/.
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