China produces gas from flammable ice under South China Sea

Why in news ?

China has successfully produced natural gas from methane hydrate, also known as flammable ice, in an experimental project in the South China Sea.

What is flammable ice ?

Also called methane hydrate or Methane clathrates or gas hydrate, is a solid  in which methane-hydrate-depositsa large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice.

Natural Deposits : Methane clathrates are restricted to the shallow lithosphere i.e. < 2,000 m depth. Furthermore, necessary conditions are found only in either continental sedimentary rocks in polar regions where average surface temperatures are less than 0 °C; or in oceanic sediment at water depths greater than 300 m where the bottom water temperature is around 2 °C.

What is the use ?

If methane hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it will revert back to water and natural gas. When brought to the earth’s surface, one cubic meter of gas hydrate releases 164 cubic meters of natural gas. It is thought to have the potential to be a revolutionary energy source that could be key to future energy needs.

Japan reported a similar successful production test . India, Canada and the United States are also believed to be looking at hydrates as an alternative energy source.

Source : The Hindu

GS I : Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent)


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