Taiwan, Germany seek methane hydrate—potentially vast new energy source

March 31, 2013
Attendant of Japan's Gas Pavilion introduces an experiment of the "burning ice," methane hydrate, as a potential future source of energy in Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, on March 19, 2005. A research vessel carrying German and Taiwanese scientists set sail for waters off the island's southwestern coast on Sunday in search of this potentially vast new energy source.

A research vessel carrying German and Taiwanese scientists set sail for waters off the island's southwestern coast on Sunday in search of methane hydrate, a potentially vast new energy source.

The substance, a fossil fuel that consists of very densely-packed methane trapped in ice, is found beneath the seafloor on and in the Arctic's permafrost.

Earlier this month, Japan announced it had successfully extracted the hydrate, known as "fire ice", from its seabed, a move it called a world first and a major breakthrough for the energy-starved nation.

The 4700-tonne German ship, called the "Sonne" will undertake a 50-day expedition at a cost of around $3.98 million, three-quarters of which will be funded by Germany and the remainder by Taiwan.

"This will be the first time we may be able to physically explore for the substance," Wayne Wang of Taiwan's National Science Council told AFP. Past studies have indicated reserves in the area could supply the island for up to 50 years.

Nuclear energy currently accounts for around 20 percent of the island's energy mix but has become increasingly controversial in recent years following Japan's atomic crisis.

Taiwan is heavily dependent on costly mainly from the Middle East and Africa.

Explore further: Japan extracts 'fire ice' gas from seabed

Related Stories

Japan extracts 'fire ice' gas from seabed

March 12, 2013

Japan said Tuesday it had successfully extracted methane hydrate, known as "fire ice", from its seabed, possibly unlocking many years' worth of gas for the resource-starved country.

China looks to 'combustible ice' as a fuel source

March 12, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Buried below the tundra of China’s Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a type of frozen natural gas containing methane and ice crystals that could supply energy to China for 90 years. China discovered the large reserve ...

Japan to test-drill for seabed 'burning ice'

July 25, 2011

Japan will seek to extract natural gas from seabed deposits of methane hydrate, also known as "burning ice", in the world's first such offshore experiment, a news report said Monday.

Taiwan builds first undersea earthquake sensor

March 21, 2011

Taiwan began building its first undersea earthquake sensor on Sunday in a project aiming to give earlier warnings of the quakes and tsunamis that frequently hit the region.

Recommended for you

Researchers 3-D print electronics and cells directly on skin

April 25, 2018

In a groundbreaking new study, researchers at the University of Minnesota used a customized, low-cost 3D printer to print electronics on a real hand for the first time. The technology could be used by soldiers on the battlefield ...

Balancing nuclear and renewable energy

April 25, 2018

Nuclear power plants typically run either at full capacity or not at all. Yet the plants have the technical ability to adjust to the changing demand for power and thus better accommodate sources of renewable energy such as ...

Electrode shape improves neurostimulation for small targets

April 24, 2018

A cross-like shape helps the electrodes of implantable neurostimulation devices to deliver more charge to specific areas of the nervous system, possibly prolonging device life span, says research published in March in Scientific ...

China auto show highlights industry's electric ambitions

April 22, 2018

The biggest global auto show of the year showcases China's ambitions to become a leader in electric cars and the industry's multibillion-dollar scramble to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese ...

After Facebook scrutiny, is Google next?

April 21, 2018

Facebook has taken the lion's share of scrutiny from Congress and the media about data-handling practices that allow savvy marketers and political agents to target specific audiences, but it's far from alone. YouTube, Google ...

7 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
1.9 / 5 (9) Mar 31, 2013
Hydrocarbons are the fuel of the NOW and near term (50 years).

Live with it.

Drill here, drill now. "The polar bears will be fine." - Freeman Dyson.
ScooterG
1.6 / 5 (7) Mar 31, 2013
Hydrocarbons are the fuel of the NOW and near term (50 years).

Live with it.

Drill here, drill now. "The polar bears will be fine." - Freeman Dyson.


We gotta' live with it - sure as hell can't live without it.
Maggnus
3 / 5 (2) Mar 31, 2013
Apparently neither one of these two idiots even knows what methane hydrate is!
Sanescience
3 / 5 (2) Apr 01, 2013
I just don't see mining methane hydrates being a cost effective endeavor. For pressure drop pumping the fuel to water ratio is very low. And environmental liability is very high. If a region of the sea floor is destabilized and a massive landslide causes a large tsunami, there could be a lot of damage and death and not just in the country doing the extraction.
Wolf358
3 / 5 (2) Apr 01, 2013
Fossil fuels for fossil fools.
ValeriaT
2 / 5 (6) Apr 01, 2013
Fossil fuels for fossil fools
It's exactly so. In 1931 year the energy in one barrel of oil was sufficient for mining of another 147 barrels of oil. In 1970 it was only 17 barrels and now it's just about five to seven barrels. It means that 20% of oil is consumed for mining and transport before the customer could even buy it. In this way the oil fields are depleted even faster then it could be estimated from production of crude oil. The end of oil era could come very fast, after then.
mosahlah
1 / 5 (3) May 18, 2013
Fossil fuels for fossil fools
It's exactly so. In 1931 year the energy in one barrel of oil was sufficient for mining of another 147 barrels of oil. In 1970 it was only 17 barrels and now it's just about five to seven barrels. It means that 20% of oil is consumed for mining and transport before the customer could even buy it. In this way the oil fields are depleted even faster then it could be estimated from production of crude oil. The end of oil era could come very fast, after then.


Not if we use nuclear or renewable energy to power the well pumps. And to answer the obvious retort, "sure, whenever there's a practical battery, we will all be happy to trade in the internal combustion engine."

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.