China, Japan extract combustible ice from seafloor

Posted: May 19, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, exploration, innovation


Methane hydrates have been known about for years, but cost and technical difficulties have so far been barriers to exploiting them on any kind of scale. Claims that they could ‘flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases’ are the usual over-the-top propaganda.

Commercial development of the globe’s huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as “combustible ice” has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the seafloor off their coastlines, says

But experts said Friday that large-scale production remains many years away—and if not done properly could flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Combustible ice is a frozen mixture of water and concentrated natural gas. Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the fuel was successfully mined by a drilling rig operating in the South China Sea on Thursday. Chinese Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming declared the event a breakthrough moment heralding a potential “global energy revolution.”

A drilling crew in Japan reported a similar successful operation two weeks earlier, on May 4 offshore the Shima Peninsula.For Japan, methane hydrate offers the chance to reduce its heavy reliance of imported fuels if it can tap into reserves off its coastline.

In China, it could serve as a cleaner substitute for coal-burning power plants and steel factories that have polluted much of the country with lung-damaging smog.
. . .
Estimates of worldwide reserves range from 280 trillion cubic meters (10,000 trillion cubic feet) up to 2,800 trillion cubic meters (100,000 trillion cubic feet), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By comparison, total worldwide production of natural gas was 3.5 billion cubic meters (124 billion cubic feet) in 2015, the most recent year available.

That means methane hydrate reserves could meet global gas demands for 80 to 800 years at current consumption rates.

Continued here.
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BBC: China claims breakthrough in mining ‘flammable ice’

  1. A C Osborn says:

    Like Shale it is only a matter of time before it becomes commercially viable.
    But of course they should leave it under the sea because it might caus Climate Change. Sarc off.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Given that CO2 is 0.04% of the atmosphere, talk of ‘flooding the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases’ seems a bit of a joke. But we’re used to such Hollywood-style hype from climate alarmists and their chums.

    If there is such a thing as a ‘greenhouse gas’ (when there isn’t even a greenhouse or equivalent) it’s mostly water vapour anyway.

    The percentage water vapor in surface air varies from 0.01% at -42 °C (-44 °F) to 4.24% when the dew point is 30 °C (86 °F)… Water vapor is also the most potent greenhouse gas owing to the presence of the hydroxyl bond which strongly absorbs in the infra-red region of the light spectrum.

    Upto ~106 times more water vapour than CO2.

  3. tom0mason says:

    “Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels.”

    An interesting idea methane hydrate as a fossil.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Tom – yes, Saturn’s methane-rich moon Titan does rather put the skids under the fossil claim.

  5. catweazle666 says:

    There’s a lot of it out there.

    This is interesting:

    Carbon dioxide storage in the ocean

    At the same time, new technologies are being developed in Germany that may be useful for exploring and extracting the hydrates. The basic idea is very simple: the methane (CH4) is harvested from the hydrates by replacing it with CO2. Laboratory studies show that this is possible in theory because liquid carbon dioxide reacts spontaneously with methane hydrate. If this concept could become economically viable, it would be a win-win situation, because the gas exchange in the hydrates would be attractive both from a financial and a climate perspective.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Date: 21/05/17 CNN Money

    China is talking up its achievement of mining flammable ice for the first time from underneath the South China Sea.

    Is cost the main issue now?