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Chinese geological bureau claims China’s exploration of ‘flammable ice’ going smoothly

A month has passed since the test on the extraction of flammable ice started in waters near the Pearl River estuary.

By 10 June 2017, flammable ice daily production is 6,800 cubic meters, Guangzhou Marine Geological Bureau said.

Flammable ice, formed at very low temperatures and under high pressure, is a frozen mixture of water and.

In August 2006, China announced plans to spend US$100 million (800 million yuan) over the next 10 years to study natural gas hydrates.

China announced in May 2017 a breakthrough for mining methane clathrates, when they extracted methane from hydrates in the South China Sea. Many countries are working on how to extract those reserves, but mining and extracting are extremely difficult.

“It looks like ice crystals but if you zoom in to a molecular level, you see that the methane molecules are caged in by the water molecules” Praveen Linga, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the National University of Singapore

Most methane clathrate is found beneath the seafloor (95%) where it exists in thermodynamic equilibrium. The sedimentary methane hydrate reservoir probably contains 2–10 times the currently known reserves of conventional natural gas. This represents a potentially important future source of hydrocarbon fuel.

China has explored about 210,000 cubic meters of the combustible ice in the South China Sea and the tests are proceeding smoothly, according to the local geological bureau.

By 10 June 2017, its daily production is 6,800 cubic meters, the bureau said.

“The process of gas production is smooth, and we are laying foundation for the next step,” the statement said.

Combustible ice usually exists in seabed or tundra areas, which have the strong pressure and low temperature necessary for its stability. It can be ignited like solid ethanol, which is why it is called “combustible ice.”

One cubic meter of “combustible ice”, a kind of natural gas hydrate, is equal to 164 cubic meters of regular natural gas.

Ye Jianliang, head of the bureau, said strict measures have been taken to protect the environment.

“We are monitoring the air, sea water, seabed and the exploration equipment. We also closely follow the amount of methane and carbon dioxide,” he said, adding that no pollution to the environment or geological hazards had happened so far.

What is Flammable Ice?

‘Flammable ice’ or Methane clathrate (also called methane hydrate, fire ice, or gas hydrate) is a solid clathrate compound in which a large amount of methane is trapped within a crystal structure of water, forming a solid similar to ice.

Originally thought to occur only in the outer regions of the Solar System, where temperatures are low and water ice is common, significant deposits of ‘flammable ice’ have been found under sediments on the ocean floors of the Earth. [Wikipedia]

Source: BBC,

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