A new acceleration additive for making 'ice that burns'

October 23, 2006

Japanese scientists are reporting discovery of an additive that can speed up the formation of methane hydrates. Those strange substances have sparked excitement about their potential as a new energy resource and a deep freeze to store greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

Methane hydrates are literally ice that burns -- frozen methane (the main component of natural gas) found in vast natural deposits beneath the seafloor in coastal areas of the United States and certain other parts of the world. When brought to the surface, hydrates pop and sizzle as they release gas and burst into flame if ignited. Known hydrate deposits hold enough natural gas to supply the world for centuries.

One barrier to exploiting this treasure has been difficulty in making gas hydrates in the laboratory that could be used for research on ways to utilize these substances as a fuel. Akihiro Yamasaki and colleagues have found that addition of an additive made from beta-cyclodextrin accelerates methane hydrate formation 5-fold. Their report is scheduled for the Nov. 15 issue of the ACS bimonthly journal Energy & Fuels.

Cyclodextrins are a family of polymers produced from starch. Their wide range of uses includes the food, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. Cyclodextrin is the active ingredient in a popular home deodorizing product.

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Key properties of methane hydrates found in permafrost and on the continental shelf illuminated

Related Stories

Natural gas supplies could be augmented with methane hydrate

January 29, 2010

Naturally occurring methane hydrate may represent an enormous source of methane, the main component of natural gas, and could ultimately augment conventional natural gas supplies, says a new congressionally mandated report ...

Gas hydrate strategy reinforced

September 15, 2011

Their critics weren't convinced the first time, but Rice University researchers didn't give up on the "ice that burns."

Recommended for you

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.