IIT-M recreates Space Fuel

The researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) have recreated space fuel by simulating interstellar conditions in the laboratory. It is a big breakthrough for India in the exploration of cleaner and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel.

The discovery has the potential to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into a next-generation energy source to curb greenhouse gases and global warming.

The research of the IIT-M in this regard has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Study of Space Fuels

The team from IIT-M was able to create methane-containing clathrate hydrates in ultra-high vacuum (1000 billion times below the atmospheric pressure) and at a temperature close to -263oC. i.e. the conditions at deep space.

This discovery of hydrates at extremely low pressures and ultra-cold temperatures is highly unexpected. The team predicts that molecules like methane and ammonia in space could exist in a completely different form than what is known to us.

Tackling Climate Change

Clathrate hydrates are crystalline solids containing gases like methane and carbon dioxide trapped in well-defined cages of water molecules. These hydrates, especially of methane, are considered to be the fuel of the future.

The researchers then repeated the experiments with carbon-di-oxide and similar hydrates were produced. This can be a breakthrough in dealing with global warming.  Now carbon dioxide can be trapped from the atmosphere and carbon dioxide gas can be sequestered as solid hydrates under the sea bed.

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Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2018UPSC Current Affairs - 2019

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