Friday, March 27, 2009

Flammable ice could be carbon-neutral fuel

A new approach to mining "natural gas locked up in water crystals" (methane hydrates) may lead to "emissions-free" fuel. (New Scientist) Pound360 isn't smart enough to completely understand this, but basically, if you pump CO2 into a reservoir of methane hydrates, the CO2 gets stuck and forces out pure methane (natural gas). Yes, when you burn natural gas, carbon is released. But "compared to other fossil fuels, methane releases less CO2 per unit of energy released."

Methane hydrate is pretty interesting stuff. If you came across it, you'd probably mistake it for ice. But if you put a match to it, the stuff would start burning. Strange.

Last year,
another New Scientist article noted methane hydrates "could be the world's last great source of carbon-based fuel." But mining the stuff isn't without risks. One long-shot possibility? "Disturbing the hydrates" could unleash a monster tsunami.

(Image via
WeatherUndergroud.com)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.