The Arctic permafrost and the surface below the seabed are now considered as the next energy sources. Scientists say that these sources composed of gas hydrates contain methane in them.
The gas hydrate, discovered back in 1983, is not a gas in frozen state, but, a product formed because of the interaction of sea water and gas. Surprisingly, the quantity of hydrates available at these sources is still a mystery.
Mr. Timothy Collett of the U.S Geological Survey, Denver, says that the amount of hydrates available could be enough to form a huge energy source, much bigger than the combined sources of oil, gas and coal of the world put together. It is estimated that natural gas of about 160 cubic feet could be extracted from just one cubic foot of hydrate, which is a huge count.
Collett also adds that the Earth’s surface has approximately 23 percent of permafrost region which act as good methane storage areas. Also, considering the depth of the oceans across the globe, he feels that hydrates could be located just beneath the sea floor and are most likely to exist near the continental margins.
In Arctic, the tests conducted to capture methane from gas hydrates, showed that the gas can be extracted by traditional drilling and production techniques.
Scientists are also developing techniques to melt the hydrate deposits stored below the ice, which will liberate the methane gas. Methane can then be trapped similar to how natural gas is captured.
Several studies are being conducted to find how the gas hydrates is formed and where it could be located. A surprising discovery revealed that formation of hydrates seems to occur in sandy deposits. Samples taken near the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia reveals this fact.
Mr. Michael Riedel of Canada’s McGill University, says that the hydrates can be located just near the surface of the seafloor, unlike what was thought earlier. The formation of hydrates has therefore, become a complicated issue to researchers.
At the same time scientists are keeping a close watch on environment, because methane is considered to be one of the effective greenhouse gases which can cause global warming.
The studies revealed that an unchecked methane release can trigger landslides under the water, creating earthquakes to cause Tsunamis.
Therefore, a lot more has to be researched, before any thoughts of considering the underwater gas hydrates to be the future energy sources.