China has discovered a big block of methane hydrate, or as it is more awesomely known, flammable ice, Caijing reports.
The discovery is of 35 billion tons, which could be pulled in the next 10 to 15 years. Not exactly something to get thrilled about now, but a nice find for down the road:
Stable only at low temperatures and high pressure, methane hydrate is made up of crystalline solids. It has a high energy density and one cubic meter produces as much energy as 164 cubic meters of natural gas, according to Zhang. The frozen gas is being contemplated as a possible replacement to fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas. It is regarded as the most promising strategic resource in the 21st century.
Gas hydrates exist in large quantities either in the seafloor or below the tundra at high latitudes, at twice as much the combined volume of coal, petroleum and natural gas. In 1965, reserves were found for the first time by the Soviet Union below its permafrost in the Siberian region.
China has the world’s third largest area of tundra, which covers 2.15 million square kilometers. Samples of gas hydrate were successfully collected from the South China Sea in 2001, making China the world’s fourth country to find reserves of flammable ice in the seafloor, following the United States, Japan and India. Chinese scientists estimated that the potential volume of the gas hydrate in China exceeds 35 billion tons in oil equivalent.
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