China has successfully produced natural gas from methane hydrate, also known as “flammable ice”, in an experimental project in the South China Sea (SCS).
As part of the experiment, a drilling platform had produced a total of 309,000 cubic metres of natural gas from gas hydrate in 60 days.
Methane hydrate has been identified as a potential new gas source for China, with the South China Sea thought to contain some of the world’s most promising flammable ice deposits. India, Canada and US are also believed to be looking at hydrates as an alternative energy source.
Flammable ice (also known as methane hydrate or methane clathrates) consists of methane trapped within water crystals. It is the world’s largest natural gas resource is trapped beneath permafrost and ocean sediment where low temperature and moderate pressure combine to trap methane in this specific way.
The methane hydrate is highly flammable and energy-intensive fuel as one cubic metre of the compound can releases about 160 cubic metres of gas. It can break down into water and methane after temperature is raised or pressure is lowered.
It is likely to be the world’s last great source of carbon-based fuel and has potential to be a revolutionary energy source that could cater future energy needs. Its vast deposits exist underneath all oceans around the globe, especially on the edge of continental shelves.