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Japan 'Flammable Ice' Could Be Burned for Energy

Japan 'Flammable Ice' Could Be Burned for Energy

By    |   Wednesday, 01 November 2017 09:07 AM

Japan is looking into whether “flammable ice” – the frozen mixture of water and natural methane – could be burned for energy, CNN reported.

Until now the country has relied heavily on importing fuel to fire its power plants and it’s considered to be the one of the largest importers of oil, coal and liquefied natural gas.

The devastating effects of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown did not help Japan’s situation, with more than 50 of its nuclear reactors that once helped provide a solution to its scarce energy resources now standing idle.

Scientists are exploring the new flammable ice technology to help end Japan’s energy crises.

The frozen mixture, called methane hydrates, is abundantly available.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory, which forms part of the U.S. Department of Energy, estimated that there are around 20,000 trillion cubic meters of methane hydrate resources available worldwide.

The gas hydrates can be found under arctic permafrost, as well as beneath the ocean floor, and may represent one of the world's largest reservoirs of carbon-based fuel, the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted.

It has been suggested that the world's gas hydrates may contain more organic carbon than the world's coal, oil, and other forms of natural gas combined.

For years scientists have been investigating the potential of using this natural gas as an energy source, touting it as the way of the future in clean energy, but no one has been able to extract methane gas hydrate commercially yet.

CNN reported that Japan is now trying to do exactly this.

According to the report, its government has invested around $1 billion on research and development over the past 15 years.

Just recently, Dr. Koji Yamamoto, leader of the research group for field development technology at MH21 (Research Consortium for Methane Hydrate Resources), led a team to extract natural gas from offshore gas hydrates and, although their operation was shut down when sand got into the pipes, they are coming closer to figuring things out.

Speaking about the possibility of tapping into methane hydrates as a power source, Yamamoto told Off-Shore Technology that Japan consumed plenty of energy and, although it would be impossible to supply all of the demand from domestic gas hydrates, it could at least give an alternative option for Japanese consumers.

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Japan is looking into whether “flammable ice” – the frozen mixture of water and natural methane – could be burned for energy.
japan, burn, flammable ice, energy
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 09:07 AM
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