Monday, October 04, 2010

More on Methane Clathrates

Japan has the most ambitious plans for developing its methane clathrate resources. But other countries which are investigating developing undersea methane hydrates include Canada, China, South Korea, and the US. And no wonder -- frozen methane clathrates may contain twice the amount of carbon as all known fossil fuels combined.

Faux environmentalists, carbon hysterics, and peak oil doomers are all agreed that any energy resource this promising should be left alone. But people who work solving real-world problems have a different attitude. Rather than obstructing crucial energy resources, problem-solvers want to develop a wide variety of abundant, clean, and versatile energy sources.
Methane trapped in marine sediments as a hydrate represents such an immense carbon reservoir that it must be considered a dominant factor in estimating unconventional energy resources; the role of methane as a 'greenhouse' gas also must be carefully assessed.
Dr. William Dillon,
U.S. Geological Survey
Hydrates store immense amounts of methane, with major implications for energy resources and climate, but the natural controls on hydrates and their impacts on the environment are very poorly understood.

Gas hydrates occur abundantly in nature, both in Arctic regions and in marine sediments. Gas hydrate is a crystalline solid consisting of gas molecules, usually methane, each surrounded by a cage of water molecules. It looks very much like water ice. Methane hydrate is stable in ocean floor sediments at water depths greater than 300 meters, and where it occurs, it is known to cement loose sediments in a surface layer several hundred meters thick.

The worldwide amounts of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth.

This estimate is made with minimal information from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other studies. Extraction of methane from hydrates could provide an enormous energy and petroleum feedstock resource. Additionally, conventional gas resources appear to be trapped beneath methane hydrate layers in ocean sediments. _USGS



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