Burning ice: Bridge to a clean energy future?
Researchers have found gas hydrates under the permafrost, a resource that could buy 10 years of energy.
Tue, Mar 24 2009 at 2:06 AM
Photo: U.S. Geological Survey
A new study to be presented this weekend by the USGS at the American Chemical Society shows a vast untapped source of (relatively) clean energy. Gas hydrates, essentially frozen natural gases, are formed when decomposed plant material comes in contact with icy water and intense pressure.
The USGS estimates there is about 84 trillion cubic feet of the stuff locked in the Arctic Slope region of Alaska, enough to heat 100 million homes for 10 years. But they also say that more research needs to be done to determine the viability of extracting the resource.
Like natural gas, the hydrates burn much cleaner than coal and oil and so could help reduce the overall carbon footprint of the United States while other carbon neutral energy sources (like solar and wind) and the Smart Grid
they require are brought online.
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