Gas from Ice — Methane Hydrates Abound

There’s an article that has been recently posted in the Atlantic that I thought might be interesting to readers here. “What if we never run out of oil” by Charles C. Mann takes a very detailed look at the geology and potential for energy use of crystalline natural gas, or methane hydrate — methane molecules trapped in ice crystals of which there is an estimated 700,000 trillion cubic feet trapped under ocean beds and beneath tundra.

In the article Mann explains that these hydrates are created when organic molecules from dead organisms settle on the ocean floor and are eaten by microorganisms:

In a process familiar to anyone who has seen bubbles coming to the surface of a pond, the microbes emit methane gas as they eat and grow. This undersea methane bubbles up too, but it quickly encounters the extremely cold water in the pores of the sediment. Under the high pressure of these cold depths, water and methane react to each other: water molecules link into crystalline lattices that trap methane molecules. A cubic foot of these lattices can contain as much as 180 cubic feet of methane gas.

Methane hydrates have been known about for a long time, but the gas within them is not easy to extract. Things are changing in that regard with new technologies being developed. Japan, a country with no current domestic energy sources, has embarked on an ambitions program to try and extract gas from methane hydrates in an effort to begin to develop its own energy program, and last month in a first effort, managed to extract 4 million cubic feet of natural gas from offshore hydrate deposits, twice as much as expected. The United States, India, China and South Korea all have methane hydrate research programs.

The articles is long, and very interesting, but is fraught with an underlying anxiety about the environmental consequences that unleashing an abundant source of new fossil fuel on the world. While natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, it still releases CO2 — and is considered by many to be only useful as a bridge fuel, something to tide us over until true renewables are ready to take over. It’s possible that a gas-from-hydrate explosion could drop the price of energy to a point where renewables become less attractive economically.

Whether this will have any effect on the development of LENR is an interesting question. It could be that viable, powerful and inexpensive LENR technology will make discussion of these new fossil fuels somewhat moot — but cheap fuel could have the effect of lowering energy prices due to competition.

  • atanguy

    From:
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/coal-oil-gas/demystifying-fire-ice-methane-hydrates-explained-15239296

    “It will still be years before methane hydrates become a commercial source of fuel”
    and:
    – “It’s one of those things that has a great potential,” Collett says, “but it’s still only a potential.” –

  • georgehants

    Arctic Methane Emergency Group
    Arctic Sea Ice – Methane Release – Planetary Emergency
    Government response to Environmental Audit Committee report based on non-existing observations, says AMEG
    AMEG, the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, hereby formally complains to the UK government that the observations to which they refer in their statement [1] do not exist. The observations taken directly from the ice and recently from satellite, support a very simple model of sea ice behaviour – that the melting, as reflected by the volume average for particular months, is closely following an exponential trend, towards zero for September 2015.
    Therefore the government must take note of the implications of what happens when the sea ice behaves according to this non-linear sea ice volume trend. The implications, spelt out by AMEG, are life-threatening for every citizen on this planet and require immediate attention.
    http://www.ameg.me/

    • http://www.american-reporter.com Joe Shea

      Few people have had the opportunjtiy to read “The Swarm,” a heart-
      stopping story of what hapens to the world when when frozen methane suddenly is freed from vast resources with the result sea animals begin to act with deadly aggression against humans and their ships and cities. It’s an 893-page, $15.95 HC imprint of HarperCollins, and was at the top of best-seller lists in Germany for eight months. No responsible discussion of methane as a natural gas resources is complete without it! The USBN number is ISBN-13 978-0-06-08590-0. It is by Frank Schatzing and “soon to become a major motion picture.” It is one hell of a roller-coasting, incredibly well-informed and exciting read!

      • Roger Bird

        And it is fiction.

    • Roger Bird

      We select the scientists that we want to listen to and ignore the scientists that we don’t want to listen to. We all do. Admit it. I just ignored the Amazing Randi or whatever his name is because I didn’t want to hear what he had to say.

      • GreenWin

        He says he knows better than you.

        • Roger Bird

          GreenWin, that is just precious. Thank you for the precis.

          I have been thinking, people like Randi NEVER discover anything new. And it gets worse: People like Randi discourage others from discovering anything new. Of course, people like Randi also help people not get conned by bad people. I find it difficult to believe that all of these people, from Pons to McKubre to Rossi and on to the gang at Defkalion and many others, are all bad people. Bad people are actually rare, although they can do a lot of damage. And it is SOoOoOo easy to be a skeptic. And it is so difficult to creating something of value.

      • Roger Barr

        Amazing Randi is not a scientist although he likes to play as one. He is a magician.

        • Roger Bird

          It doesn’t really matter what the Amazing Randi says and whether he is a scientists, a magician, or the guy on the street. The only thing that counts is the evidence, and the evidence proves that LENR is real. Rossi, he is still on probation.

  • georgehants

    From Wired
    Government Secrecy Orders on Patents Have Stifled More Than 5,000 Inventions.
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/04/gov-secrecy-orders-on-patents/

    • GreenWin

      Very good overview of patent secrecy.

  • georgehants

    April 27, 2013 – 18:00
    NEWS
    At GSE Green Energy Award 2013 to Atlasole
    The Scientific Committee of the 14th ESRI Users Conference Italian Green Energy has awarded the prize in 2013 to ATLASOLE, the GSE portal for the interactive viewing of photovoltaic systems. The award ceremony took place in the afternoon in Rome, at the Auditorium Maximum.
    http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.alternativasostenibile.it%2Farticolo%2Fal-gse-il-premio-green-energy-2013-per-atlasole-.html

  • Torbjörn

    I wonder if the first 1 MW Hot Cat plant has been delivered and installed.

    Andrea Rossi

    October 30th, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Dear Emilio Icaza:

    Yes, Leonardo Corp is very much powerful now. I can already say that the first 1 MW hot cat will go in operation within February 2013. It will not be a military application, therefore selected persons will be allowed to visit it. It will be installed in a big power production and distribution plant.
    This is the new. The plant is made in the USA.

  • Alex

    So,…. What happens when we start mining this stuff. And say we have oh, 400 million barrels of it in the harbor of Miami, when a perfect storm hits and releases all 400 million into the atmosphere. Hmm, if you think global warming was starting to affect weather, I don’t want to think about what that kind of disaster would develop after a few years. Can’t clean up this stuff, it just evaporates and stays above us.

    • Roger Bird

      Hopefully it will float over Colorado and warm us up. We sure could use a little warming.

  • Fibber McGourlick

    To go off topic for a moment… Wasn’t the 1 MW ecat scheduled for delivery/operation/public access in Sweden at the end of this month? Anyone know the status of this item?

    • Omega Z

      No.

      It’s to be delivered in the U.S. And Possibly available to a select few to witness. Possibly Even Frank here at ECW.

      Rossi has Implied (NOT PROMISED) that a Picture of the new Cat.
      AKA, As to what that means? ?
      Delivered to Customer. Probably Not. This may possibly leak info by the image posted unless in a closed room that could be anywhere.

      Crated up being loaded on a Transport headed for delivery. HOPE NOT.
      I’d like to have a visual of the Product. Not a Crate.

      Actually, the 2 people that Rossi has indicated there may be a picture posted to were not specific in their requests. Gives Rossi a lot of leeway as to the Picture Content. I Hope he doesn’t. disappoint.

      • http://www.e-catworld.com admin

        AR said today that they would be delivering a 1 MW low temperature plant — probably will be housed in a shipping container.

      • Sanjeev

        All that is needed is the name of the customer (and no denial from them). If the customer is a well known co., then it will make headlines. The photos or visits are not so urgent.

        If its a hush hush thing again, it will be buried in a handful of deserted blogs forever.

    • Lu

      Yes, delivery is supposed to be at the end of this month by the 30th. Not sure if there is going to be an acceptance test prior to the delivery as with the other 1MW plant or after installation. Rossi hasn’t said much about this.

      Then after a number of months visits will be made by invited guests. Hopefully we will hear about these and get independent confirmation of the delivery, operation, and perhaps the identity of the customer.

      Rossi also promised pictures of the plant at delivery. I imagine it will be the newer, smaller configuration instead of the original shipping container 1MW version so I am very interested in seeing this.

      • Lu

        P.S. Not in Sweden though. Somewhere in the US is my recollection.

  • GreenWin

    With breathless articles and announcements arriving from fossil and nuclear industries daily, we are seeing their defense strategy. Defense against what? LENR of course. And to a lesser degree, solar (wind has about blown itself out.)

    The reason vbasic’s utility rates have dropped dramatically in the last months is IMO a direct result of new NG gluts AND the fear of LENR. Utilities have been warned (US Edison Electric Inst) of encroaching Distributed Energy Resources DERs, purportedly solar, in fact LENR e-cat. It has put the fear of a higher power into the energy sectors. 🙂

    So, to fight back, to save the old paradigm utilities cling to, they are inventing exciting new sources of hydrocarbons. 700k trillion cubic feet methane hydrates! But according to Oil Change International, U.S. oilcos are given $$52 billion in annual subsidies (includes costs defending pipelines and shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf.) http://bit.ly/Z6Ce2C

    This is as transparent as the recent “breakthrough” in h0t fusion. Or the astonishing new Bakken field, or North sea NG discoveries. The writing is on the wall. The petro-dollar is under siege. And the last desperate moves of the old energy industry is to slash prices in an attempt to compete with New Fire. Like a two-for-one buggy sale in 1908 when the automobile was clearly putting livery out of business.

    This is probably a reasonable softening of the blow. They will hang on to a few old customers just as the gas companies did when gaslight was replaced by electric light. But honestly, who in their practical mind will buy 6 cent/kWh electric when they can purchase a DER delivering 1/4cent/kWh electricity??

    The increase in old paradigm “discoveries” and “breakthroughs” will continue as LENR is revealed and business comprehends its disruptive impact. But we cannot hide this genie. And consider a work force conversion from oil/gas drilling to manufacturing, installing, and maintaining district and residential LENR e-cats. LENR jobs will increase to meet global demand beyond oil and gas.

    And just maybe $52 billion in oilco subsides, can be used to provide education, housing, and healthcare for citizens.

    • Roger Bird

      I believe the form may be spot on, but I think that the content is conspiratorial to say the least and perhaps paranoid. Individuals and businesses are merely acting is what they consider to be their own best interests. It is not in their best interests to oppress people. It is in their best interests to grab as much market share as possible. And this may be exactly what they are doing. I would. So also would every single person reading this comment.

    • georgehants

      GreenWin, Remove finance, profits and none of your above would happen, as everybody working together would only pursue the technology giving the most from the least number of workers possible.
      The destruction and inefficiency of capitalism is immense everywhere.
      No patents needed just free immediate research into Cold Fusion to ascertain it’s potential.
      Rossi would have no need to protect his position, causing such delays, as he would automatically be fairly rewarded for his work.

      • Roger Bird

        And unicorns will love us and guide us and everything will be wonderful!

    • Peter Roe

      “to save the old paradigm utilities cling to, they are inventing exciting new sources of hydrocarbons. 700k trillion cubic feet methane hydrates!” et similis.

      That is a very astute and interesting observation that hadn’t occurred to me, but several similar recent articles do seem to bear some of the paw prints of propaganda. In particular it seems slightly strange that, as these deposits have been known about for decades, they have not been exploited to any extent to date. The obvious reason is that exploitation is technically challenging and unlikely to be profitable, and as gas prices have fallen in the US, it seems unlikely that this situation has changed recently.

      • Roger Bird

        It is not about saving the old paradigm. They don’t even know that they are stuck in a paradigm. Japan discovered a way to extract methane hydrate, and they have NO energy resources and never have had energy resources. It is all exploratory at this point and if they think that they can’t make money off of it, then will stop development. I simply don’t see any conspiracy or propaganda here, other than to make money. And if it were me or you or anyone else, we would be behaving in exactly the same way. And we would say that our money making was benefiting the Japanese people, and we would be right.

        • GreenWin

          Roger, there is no suggestion of conspiring. Just plain ole market competition. As simple as this hypothetical dialog:

          Exec: “They got LENR, ultra low cost clean, abundant nuclear energy??? WE got 700k trillion cf of frozen methane! Try ‘n beat that!”

        • Thinksforself

          The challenging part is simply the depth, but there has been a huge increase in the methods and technology available for exploring and working in the deep sea in the last couple of decades. If you can work at the required depth, mining methane hydrates isn’t more than scooping them up and bring them up to the surface. It likely won’t be much more than another decade before mining the ocean floor for all sorts of materials will be a very common thing.

          • Roger Bird

            That sounds great, but we still have to learn to recycle more and more and more, and I am an AGW denier and proud of it. (:->) Even the bottom of the ocean is finite.

            But, and a big BUT, the more mining of the ocean floor, the more fish.

  • Peter Roe

    Methane is a potent ‘greenhouse gas’ – it’s about 25 times more ‘efficient’ at trapping heat than CO2, and because it’s more persistant (it’s stable, and plants can’t use it), methane in the atmosphere will trap about 70 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period (source, Wikipedia – font of all things AGW – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global-warming_potential).

    Methane hydrates continually decompose to release methane, so it can be argued that mining it and burning the methane will reduce the amount of warming it would otherwise produce by this massive factor (70). Therefore we should be making every effort to mine the stuff and to burn as much of as possible in IC engines and fuel cells.

    AGW people should take this factor into account before voicing objections to ‘burning yet more fossil fuels’.

    • Thinks4Self

      I completely agree with you! There are enough methane hydrates off the coast of Florida alone to power the US for years to come. These hydrates are suspected to be the cause of much of the mystery of the ‘Devils Triangle’. Through causes such as large releases sinking and capsizing ships without warning when they bubble up under a passing ship to causing low flying airplanes to crash due to oxygen starved engines stopping mid-flight. These deposits will continue to be released no matter what we decide to use for energy. Better to use the energy from them and reduce the severity of any greenhouse causing factors.

      • Roger Bird

        Thinks4Self, I think that was the “Bermuda Triangle”.

        It may be that methane hydrate serves some purpose in the ecosystem, that we probably don’t know about, yet. It seems unlikely that something that has been around for hundreds of millions of years would not already be taken advantage of by some organism.

        • Thinksforself

          The Devils Triangle and the Bermuda Triangle are the same thing. I just like the name Devils Triangle better since it sounds a lot more ominous. I am sure there’s the odd microbe or two that will consume methane given no other choice but from the sheer volume of methane on this planet nothing seems to like it very much.

        • Omega Z

          I agree Roger.

          Note that Some Scientists speculate that as much as 90% of the Oil that ever existed has been devoured by Micro organisms.

          • Roger Bird

            Bless their hearts. I hope that they don’t get indigestion. (:->)

            • Omega Z

              Or Go extinct. Ha

        • Thinksforself

          The Devils Triangle and the Bermuda Triangle are the same thing. I just like the name Devils Triangle better since it sounds a lot more ominous.

    • Roger Bird

      I currently need all of the heat that I can get. In fact, I could use some on my lower back right now. Could we get some global warming focused on my lower back, a little to the left?

    • lenrdawn

      That doesn’t make any sense. Rather than burning it one should simply leave it where it is, from an AGW point of view. Mining it won’t reduce the rate it’s escaping naturally into the atmosphere by any measurable amount (there is simply far too much of it) – it will only contribute to even more CO2.

      • Roger Bird

        Sounds good to me. Perhaps we should dive down and just drag that stuff up and let those wonderful greenhouse gases escape so that they can warm the globe. It has been such a terrifically cold Spring here in Colorado this year.

    • Fibber McGourlick

      To go of topic for a minute… Wasn’t the 1 MW ecat scheduled for operation and public view in Sweden at the end of this month? Anyone know what’s happening with this?

      • http://www.e-catworld.com admin

        No, that hasn’t been announced. Accoring to Andrea Rossi, delivery of a 1 MW plant is going to take place to a customer somewhere on April 30th.

        • NJT

          Yep, and were are supposed to see pictures of that delivery (unwrapping)as promised by Rossie?

          • http://www.e-catworld.com admin

            Right, we’re supposed to see some pictures of the delivery but I’m sure at what stage of delivery. Rossi hasn’t mentioned the unwrapping.

      • Omega Z

        Fibber

        I gave a response above, but it went to Mod-

    • de^mol

      Interesting thought. But, maybe it is not that good after all, because it means that the releasing methane helps the earths to stay ‘warm’. If we take that away the earth might go back into a new ice-age, and that has much more devastating results. Crops will fall, whole areas will get glaciers back, such as Russia and Canada, destroying forests, etcetera.

      • Thinksforself

        The Earth will eventually go into another ice age and heat up far warmer than it is today, no matter what we do. The biggest causation is orbital mechanics regardless of what the AGW people say.

        • Omega Z

          Thinksforself

          I think of it akin to a 1000 piece puzzle & they haven’t figured out where the 1st peace fits in yet. Thou they have already come to a conclusion of what the picture is.

          • Roger Bird

            Are you talking about hot-fusionists belief about CF/LENR? Or are you talking about AGW? Or are you talking about the principle of learning a new paradigm altogether? It applies nicely to the later. People “know” what the picture is (their old paradigm), so they just don’t know where to put the new piece of the puzzle. So, often, they just throw the piece out. If McKubre says that he has duplicated, the old paradigm guy just ignores that because it doesn’t fit anywhere in his picture (the old paradigm.)

          • Thinksforself

            I view the AGW case akin to looking at 2 minutes of stock ticker data and then claiming the ability to tell what the price of a stock will be next year.

            • Roger Bird

              What a great analogy! I think that the same could be said for the history of the Universe and the Big Bang. It seems like they are so hung up on a very thin slice of evidence and they take it so seriously. Then they turn around and say, this is how it is, when in fact they have such little evidence.

            • Omega Z

              Thinksforself

              Yes, Probably a better analysis then what I said.

      • Omega Z

        de^mol

        The Central U.S. had 5000 foot of Ice Covering it 15K years ago.
        No Way I’ll be moving that much Ice to grow my Garden. 🙁

        • Roger Bird

          Even with LENR on steroids.

          • Omega Z

            Nah, Just build an underground greenhouse with grow lights powered by LENR. Easier.

            • Roger Bird

              Omega Z, I guess it is better than dying, but not by much. Such an underground greenhouse would just not quite work. People would probably become Vitamin D deficient, and then who knows what. It is hubris to think that science knows everything. Science may be really good at learning things and nailing them down as being true, but there is so much that we have learned about health (even if modern medicine and conventional nutrition haven’t seemed to realize it yet) in the past 80 years that it seems unlikely that this is it.

              • Omega Z

                Vitamin D isn’t a problem, But 1 would probably go top side on occasion anyway.

                • Roger Bird

                  And why isn’t Vitamin D a problem? And how is it that you think that there aren’t other problems lurking around that you would not know about, since, really, we don’t know everything.

  • GreenWin

    While this is not gas from ice, it is reason why nukes (any fission-based nuke, e.g. Hinkley Point) are a preposterous proposal.

    “The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is so complex that it is impossible to predict how long the cleanup may last.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/fukushima-cleanup-japan-nuclear-40-years_n_3130891.html

    • Peter Roe

      The disaster that never stops giving:

      http://vineoflife.net/2013/04/24/massive-uncontained-leak-at-fukushima-is-pouring-over-710-billion-becquerels-of-radioactive-materials-into-atmosphere/

      But don’t expect to hear about it on the ‘evening news’.

      • GreenWin

        Peter, I consider the refusal of mainstream news to carry these type stories to border on prior restraint – a Constitutional violation in the States and near-criminal worldwide.

        “…120 tons of water that had been contaminated with radioactive substances had leaked from an underground storage facility at the No. 1 atomic power plant site.”

        Daily climate alarmists shriek about “tons” of CO2 – a natural plant fertilizer. Where are they on radioactive water??? Hello?

        • NJT

          Does not sound like anybody is home Greenwin. Yikes!!!

          • Omega Z

            +1

    • atanguy

      The ‘French Nucleocrates’ are very proud of their recent accomplishments,beside exporting their new technology: A monster fission reactor called EPR to Finland,China and soon the UK (Note that the EPR’s record is now its price Probably around 12 billions dollars with not a single watt produced yet),they also produce a nuclear combustible called MOX that recycle the plutonium produced in the older nuke plants. The MOX was the combustible used by one of the Fukushima reactor that exploded and sent plutonium at more than 1 mile of the reactor. Now the nucleocrates want to continue to sell the MOX to the Japanese who have stopped all their nuclear plants except two. the Japanese don’t want it,you wonder why. Hope the Brits won’t want the EPR too

      • Gérard2013

        It’s true!!!

        Nuclear power has the French is a big mistake. nuclear industry if it is not reformed. It will pay a heavy price …

        In french
        C’est vrai! Le nucléaire a la française est une grosse erreur. l’industrie nucléaire si elle ne se réforme pas. Elle le paiera le prix fort…

  • Jacob

    I think we are still parking in the dreams and imaginations state.
    I could not see any thing practical so far.

  • Roger Bird

    I think that methane hydrate is fascinating and could be a bridge. But I doubt that it is going to go anywhere because LENR will take off soon, I think and I hope.

    In Swedish:

    Jag tror att metan hydrat är fascinerande och kan vara en bro. Men jag tvivlar på att det kommer att gå någonstans eftersom LENR kommer att ta fart snart, tror jag, och jag hoppas.

    (:->)

  • vbasic

    It is amazing how quickly things have changed regarding some energy prices. A few years ago our natural gas and electric bill were very high. Now they dropped in half due to increased supply, We got a locked in price of 6 cents per KWh and some of our electtric plants switched from coal to gas. Both my electric and gas bills have dropped in half. Plus I replaced an old refrigerator with an efficient one and put in LED light bulbs (I hate the CFLs)
    If LENR plants come on line I can imagine prices dropping further, maybe even oil prices.

    • sempervivum

      You must be a protected species in your neck of the woods

      The situation is exactly the opposite in Australia ,and we have
      some of the largest coal and gas resources in the world . The reason given for our recent huge price increases are infrastructure costs, maintenance for the grid ,and the carbon tax.

      • http://th vbasic

        I’m in the USA in a state with low regulations and our infrastructure has been built already. We don’t have a Carbon tax yet, because our Congress voted it down. I’m sorry to hear of Australia’s situation and hope when the new infrastructure is built, they will lower your prices. And get rid of that Carbon Tax! As long as China is burning 5 times as much coal as the rest of the world, the rest of us shouldn’t be punished.

  • Gérard2013

    To go into the new American space, is this the right energy?
    Of course not …

    This is a new energy in the same oil …

    in french

    Pour aller dans l’espace la nouvelle Amérique, est-ce la bonne énergie?
    Bien sur non…

    Cela n’est qu’une nouvelle energie identique au pétrole…

    • atanguy

      I wonder what is the real cost of this methane, knowing that you have to extract it from the very deep ocean and liquify it to distribute it. I think it may be vaporware…

      • Omega Z

        Liquifying is only necessary for shipping to other far off countries.
        For Domestic use you just tie into existing pipelines in it’s existing Gas Form.