Gallery: Researchers Successfully Extract Natural Gas from Methane Crys...


Alaskan Glacier Photo from Shutterstock

The US Department of Energy, with backing from the oil industry, has successfully tested a new method to extract untapped natural gas from frozen crystals of methane hydrate, buried in ocean sediment and permafrost in Alaska’s Arctic. Some experts claim that this energy source could provide several hundred years of energy, and they want to tap it using a method which requires carbon dioxide to be injected into the ground. Any form of drilling in the Arctic raises serious questions about extracting fossil fuels in an environmentally sensitive region, but proponents claim that the drilling techniques have a low ecological footprint.

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1 Comment

  1. GreatEmerald May 9, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Huh. Well, if they extracted both methane and methane hydride from the glaciers, then it would lower the amount of methane the glaciers emit and therefore slow down global warming. Although since it’s replaced by CO2, that would still be emitted after some time. And, of course, to use CH4 as a fuel, you need to burn it, producing more CO2. So it all comes down to the balance: is converting all that CH4 to CO2 better than emitting CH4 itself?

    As for disrupting the ecosystems… Well, it’s once again a balance. If it helps to slow down global warming, then the glaciers will stay for a longer time, which is better for the environment there. But if it doesn’t, then it will just make the destruction of the glaciers faster.

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