We’ve been told for years that oil, coal and gas are running out yet there seems to be more lately than ever. Shale gas has just exploded onto the scene, and now there seems to be a new fuel in town: Fire ice.
Locked deep under the permafrost or one the edges of continental shelves down on the ocean bed, these burnable ice crystals, otherwise known as Methane Hydrate could provide a whole new fuel option. It’s a hydrocarbon, Jim: but not as we know it.
‘A lot of geoscientists are fascinated by hydrates because of how odd it is that you can take methane gas and add water and have it result in something with such a concentrated store of energy,’ says Peter Flemings, a member of the Energy Department at the University of Texas.
The methane comes from bacterial degradation of organic matter found in sedimentary beds deep underground. The Fire Ice is then formed through a combination of high pressure and low temperatures; the gas presents as ice crystals with liquefied natural methane locked inside an ice-lattice, looking rather akin to sherbet.
Deposits of this compound are huge. ‘Estimates suggest that there is about the same amount of carbon in methane hydrates as there is in every other organic carbon store on the planet’, says Chris Rochelle, of the British Geological Survey, i.e. more than all the world’s coal, gas and oil put together.
Lower the pressure, or raise the temperature and the hydrate simply breaks down into water and methane. Lots and lots of methane. One cubic metre of the compound releases about 160 cubic metres of gas. This, together with abundant reserves and a relatively simple releasing process has made many governments excited about this potential resource. One way to release the methane is to pump CO2 into it, which could solve a possible problem of storing the infamous ‘greenhouse’ gas at the same time as releasing usable fuel.
The US, Canada and Japan have all invested millions into research, and have carried out numerous test projects, with Japan the first to successfully extract the fuel from its ocean floor in 2013. A depressuration method was used to extract the gas from 1000 metres below the Nankai Trough seabed. Japan is the biggest importer of gas in the world. “Methane hydrate makes perfect sense for Japan and could be a game-changer’, says Laszlo Varro of the International Energy Agency.
Reuters reported that Japan intends to commercially produce methane from hydrates within six years. South Korea, India and China are now looking at possible extraction of their own reserves.
Like Fire ice as a fuel, new software types for a new era can bring increased potential and dividends.
Your software has probably served you well for the past 5 or 10 years, much like coal and oil has powered our machines but new things are on the horizon, like cloud computing and Software as a Service (SAAS), that change things in many different ways. Like Fire ice as a fuel, new software types for a new era can bring increased potential and dividends.
Don’t wait while others leap on ahead with modern, easy to use systems. Power up your business with a bespoke Triangle software system and fuel your future.
Just give us a call on 01477 571940 and we can show you the benefits of modern IT systems. It’s software, Jim. But not as you know it.