Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | December 10, 2008

Environmental lawyer Sanders says methane hydrate may be the next big source of energy for America.

Gas hydrate is a crystalline solid consisting of gas molecules, usually methane, surrounded by a cage of water molecules. That is, frozen water crystals trap large quantities of methane gas. Because of the presence of methane, the hydrate will burn when ignited. If gas hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it will decompose to water and natural gas.

Methane hydrate was discovered only a few decades ago, and little research has been done on it until recently. Because of the sheer abundance of gas hydrate in our environment, some scientists estimate that the energy locked up in methane hydrate deposits is more than twice the global reserves of all conventional gas, oil, and coal deposits combined.

What that estimate sounds exciting, no one has figured out how to recover methane gas from the frozen crystalline structure in a cost-efficient manner.

In addition, no one really knows how much energy is actually recoverable. Still, gas hydrates occur abundantly in nature, both in Arctic regions and in marine sediments.

Because of the enormous potential of gas hydrate as an energy source, we will be hearing a lot about this compound in the future.

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