For the first time, Chinese engineers successfully extracted natural gas from frozen warehouses in the South China Sea, a promising process for the emergence of a new branch of the energy industry.
Last year, the Chinese government announced that geologists have found methane hydrate reserves – also known as flammable ice – and now managed to extract it, bringing the world a step closer to exploiting this resource, writes Science Alert.
The engineers were able to extract in this operation – a total of 35,000 cubic meters of gas a day, far more than a Japanese experiment in 2013.
Methane hydrate is a fascinating substance that looks like the usual ice, but contains methane caught in a “fabric” of water molecules. If you approach a burning match, it not only melts, it also starts to burn.
These reserves are found where low temperatures combine with moderate pressure to keep methane in a particular way. These conditions are found at the bottom of the oceans, hundreds of meters under water.
The main problem is the lack of stability of the deposits, even a slight change in temperature and / or pressure can lead to the release of methane in water.
Also, the reserves are huge, which would make this industry profitable. One cubic meter of methane hydrate can release 164 cubic meters of natural gas. Researchers believe that this gas is abundant all over the world, probably exceeding even the full amount of fossil fuels on the planet.