Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Important Key to Unlocking Vast Gas Hydrate Resource Announced by US DOE

Methane hydrates represent the largest resource of hydrocarbons in the planetary crust. Up until now, humans had not devised a good way to tap into this immense energy wealth. But a report from the DOE today may point the way to a new era in abundant energy for human societies:
May 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday announced a breakthrough in research into tapping a possibly vast fuel resource that could eventually bolster already massive U.S. natural gas reserves.

By injecting a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into a methane hydrate formation on Alaska's North Slope, the department was able to produce a steady flow of natural gas in the first field test of this method. The test was done from mid-February to about mid-April this year

"While this is just the beginning, this research could potentially yield significant new supplies of natural gas," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

The department, which partnered with ConocoPhillips and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp for the test, said it will offer $6.5 million this year for further research on tapping methane hydrates, and will request an additional $5 million for research next year.

Gerald Holder, dean of the engineering program at University of Pittsburgh and who has worked with the DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory on the hydrate issue, said before this announcement he had been skeptical about what researchers would be able to accomplish. He said the main problem until now was finding a way to extract natural gas from solid hydrates without adding a whole lot of steps that made the process too expensive, so the success of this new test is significant. "It makes the possibility of recovering methane from hydrates much more likely," Holder said. _Reuters

While it is true that experts are probably understating the actual resource of gas hydrates by a significant factor, the same could be said for estimates of crude oil, coal, natural gas, bitumen, and kerogen resources.

But today's announcement should initiate renewed research in labs around the world, toward devising more efficient and economical ways of extracting gas hydrates from the enormous, "quasi-renewable" resource.

Why do we say that gas hydrates are quasi-renewable sources of energy? If you do not understand that, then you have not been paying attention. Try a little harder, please.



Blogger Steve said...

I must wonder Al why you didn't approve my last comment. Maybe just Maybe because it said something positive about Obama's DOE which is backed by this posting of yours?


5:25 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

Very interesting comment, Steve. The main reason comments are disapproved on this blog is for being so badly off-topic that they're embarassing.

I checked the spam trap for your comment and couldn't find any of yours there.

If you feel strongly enough about that particular comment, simply re-submit it.

Paranoia is a waste of time.

7:52 PM  

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