Energy of the future
In a world first, Japan extracts 'fire ice' gas from seabed
Japan said on 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.
In what they are claiming as a world first, a consortium is drilling for the hydrate, a fossil fuel that looks like ice but consists of very densely-packed methane surrounded by water molecules, one kilometre (3,300 feet) below sea level.
The solid white substance burns with a pale flame, leaving nothing but water. One cubic metre of it is estimated to contain many times the equivalent volume of methane in gas form.
"We aim to establish methane hydrate production technologies for practical use by the fiscal 2018 year" ending March 2019, a consortium official said.
"I hope we can make use of resources surrounding our country as soon as possible by clearing hurdles one by one," he added.
This has meant energy costs have shot up for Japan as it has been forced to buy pricey fossil-fuel alternatives.
The gas field is northeast of the Tokyo-controlled disputed islands — called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China — over which Asia's two largest economies have locked horns for months.
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