Alaskan drilling will assess gas hydrate

February 20, 2007

Drilling has started on an Alaskan North Slope well to assess the United States' largest potential fossil energy resource: gas hydrate.

U.S. Department of Energy scientists say gas hydrate is an ice-like solid that results from the trapping of methane molecules -- the main component of natural gas -- within a lattice-like cage of water molecules. Dubbed the "ice that burns," the substance releases gaseous methane when it melts.

The size of the global gas hydrate resource is staggering, holding more ultimate energy potential than all other fossil fuels combined, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which estimates the deposits contain 200,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The government said the well is being drilled from an ice pad, constructed to protect the sensitive arctic tundra.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Researchers examine market potential, environmental trade-offs of using natural gas as a marine fuel

Related Stories

Flowing electrons help ocean microbes gulp methane

September 18, 2015

Good communication is crucial to any relationship, especially when partners are separated by distance. This also holds true for microbes in the deep sea that need to work together to consume large amounts of methane released ...

Study proves pipeline replacement programs are effective

September 9, 2015

Invisible gas leaks from aging or damaged pipelines cost U.S. consumers billions of dollars every year, contribute to global warming, and, in rare cases, cause dangerous explosions. But pipeline replacement programs in cities ...

Drilling boom brings rising number of harmful waste spills

September 8, 2015

Carl Johnson and son Justin are third- and fourth-generation ranchers who for decades have battled oilfield companies that left a patchwork of barren earth where the men graze cattle in the high plains of New Mexico. Blunt ...

Artificial 'plants' could fuel the future

September 8, 2015

Imagine creating artificial plants that make gasoline and natural gas using only sunlight. And imagine using those fuels to heat our homes or run our cars without adding any greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. By combining ...

Recommended for you

Predictable ecosystems may be more fragile

October 7, 2015

When it comes to using our natural resources, human beings want to know what we're going to get. We expect clean water every time we turn on the tap; beaches free of algae and bacteria; and robust harvests of crops, fish ...

History shows more big wildfires likely as climate warms

October 5, 2015

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to new study led by a University of ...


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.