Skip to comments.An Energy Coup for Japan: ‘Flammable Ice’
Posted on 03/12/2013 9:45:19 AM PDT by Brad from Tennessee
TOKYO Japan said Tuesday that it had extracted gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate sometimes called flammable ice a breakthrough that officials and experts said could be a step toward tapping a promising but still little-understood energy source.
The gas, whose extraction from the undersea hydrate was thought to be a world first, could provide an alternative source of energy to known oil and gas reserves. That could be crucial especially for Japan, which is the worlds biggest importer of liquefied natural gas and is engaged in a public debate about whether to resume the countrys heavy reliance on nuclear power.
Experts estimate that the carbon found in gas hydrates worldwide totals at least twice the amount of carbon in all of the earths other fossil fuels, making it a potential game-changer for energy-poor countries like Japan. The exact properties of undersea hydrates and how they might affect the environment are still poorly understood, however, as is the potential for making extraction commercially viable.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Nothing new here. Willy Wonka knew about this years ago.
Hot Ice Cream for Cold Days, it said on the next door.
“Extremely useful in the winter,” said Mr. Wonka, rushing on. “Hot ice cream warms you up no end in freezing weather. I also make hot ice cubes for putting in hot drinks. Hot ice cubes make hot drinks hotter.”
For a second I thought it said flammable rice. What would be the Asian version of ethanol.
Methane Hydrate is cool stuff.
I was shown some about a dozen years ago while visiting an oil drilling platform. It collects on the drillig equipment and mucks things up. Harvesting for direct gas use would be different.
The actual material is waxy and looks a lot like broken up moth balls.
You can, of course, expect rending of garments and great wailing and gnashing of teeth from the greenies among us, whose most fervent dream is a world populated by a few million starving wretches sitting huddled around fires of buffalo dung. Burning these methyl hyrates produces methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Any idea what causes it to form and collect?
Does that mean you can get twice the bang for buck from it, by burning the hydrate for the heat and collecting the methane to be burned in another application?
And more accessible energy then, which "also" produces greenhouse gasses, right? Hmmmn. Can anybody recall a recent debate about banning and restricting and socializing international sea floor technology and resources?
Nothing radical, of course, just “Law of the Sea” or some such. Nothing important about the US signing away (to the UN, African dictatorships, china, and everybody in any 3rd world nation anywhere that wants in on the “free action” of undersea future energy sources .....
It forms spontaneously when methane dissolved in water reaches a few thousand psi of pressure. What is remarkable, is that the crystal structure is then fairly stable and remains a solid whan it is brought up from the deep. It will revert to a gas as the trapped water evaporates away or the solid is exposed to a small amount of heat..
It is methane which is captured in the crystalline structure of the hydrates. The methane is what gets oxidized in the burning. A very tiny trace of methane may not get oxidized, but burning techniques will render a greater percentage of oxidation if scientists play with it sufficiently.
BTW, major undersea landslides are known to release clouds of methane which boil up to the surface changing the bouyancy of the water ... sinking previously floating things dontchaknow.
OK, so heating it releases the methane which is the actual fuel burned? Is there a residue?
A clathrate is a chemical compound in which molecules of one material (the host) form a solid lattice that encloses molecules of another material (the guest). Methane hydrate is a naturally-occurring clathrate in which a host lattice of water-ice encloses guest molecules of methane.
Methane, made of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, is the simplest hydrocarbon molecule and the primary component of natural gas.
In methane hydrate, the gas molecules are not chemically bound to the water molecules but instead are trapped within their crystalline lattice.
The resulting substance looks remarkably like white ice, but it does not behave like ice.
The methane that is captured in the methane hydrate may have been formed by biogenic or thermogenic processes. Biogenic methane is the common by-product of bacterial ingestion of organic matter. This is the same process that produces methane in swamps, and it occurs continually within buried sediments all around the globe. Biogenic processes are capable of producing vast amounts of methane and are considered to be the dominant source of the methane trapped in hydrate accumulations in shallow seafloor sediments.
Thermogenic methane is produced by the combined action of heat and pressure over a long period of time on buried organic material. Over time and with deep burial, organic-rich source beds are literally pressurecooked, with the result being the production of large quantities of oil and natural gas. Along with the oil, the natural gas (largely methane, but also larger molecules like ethane, propane, and others) slowly migrates upward due to its relative buoyancy. Where sufficient quantities of gas reach the zone of hydrate stability, this gas is able to combine with water in the sediments to form methane hydrate.
Given the pressure-temperature relationship found in deep marine environments, it might seem that hydrate could accumulate anywhere in ocean-bottom sediments where water depth exceeds about 400 meters.
However, very deep sediments are generally not thought to contain large quantities of hydrate. The reason is that very deep oceans lack the high biologic productivity needed to create the organic matter that generates methane, and they lack the rapid sedimentation rates needed to deeply bury the organic matter.
The hydrate is methane and water/ice combination latices. Burning the hydrate is burning the methane.
No, this hydrate is methane, physically trapped in a water/ice latices but not chemically bonded together.
Burning the hydrate is burning the methane. Only water vapor and carbon dioxide is produced.
Thanks! You’ll make a chemist out of me yet!
Methane Hydrates are found under the permafrost on the Alaskan North Slope in the area of the oil fields. There has been experimental production from them, but no commercial production, so far.
Only residue I know of is water. I can see it encapsulating organic debris from the ocean floor though, if you want to consider sediment to be a residue.
Production methods to date, including Japan’s, involved releasing the methane from the hydrate latices while still in place. Only the methane is brought to the surface.
Japan used a depressurizing method to release the methane in place. Reference: http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/124983/Japanese_Firm_JOGMEC_in_Ice_Gas_Breakthrough
Thanks Robert A. Cook, PE.
I appreciate you guys gently taking me to the woodshed about my error. I have not had any formal chemistry since sophomore chemistry in 1964 with old Mr Holmes. Holmes was a spry old WWI vet who was still capable of administering a sharp rap to the back of the head with a ruler when an errant student made a dumb mistake like that. He would not have been so gentle.
Thanks for the ping.