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Freezing Fuel can Power Your Car

We've written about fuel from corn and fuel from garbage, but?fuel from ice?

In the future, natural gas derived from chunks of ice that workers collect from beneath the ocean floor and beneath the arctic permafrost may fuel cars, heat homes, and power factories. These are called "gas hydrates," a frozen form of natural gas that bursts into flames at the touch of a match, and they show increasing promise as an abundant, untapped source of clean, sustainable energy, which does not release greenhouse gases.

In a landmark study, the USGS scientists estimated that 85.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could potentially be extracted from gas hydrates in Alaska?s North Slope region, enough to heat more than 100 million average homes for more than a decade.

Geologist Tim Collett says, "These gas hydrates could serve as a bridge to our energy future until cleaner fuel sources, such as hydrogen and solar energy, are more fully realized?It's definitely a vast storehouse of energy, but it is still unknown how much of this volume can actually be produced on an industrial scale."

Although scientists have known about gas hydrates for decades, they've only recently begun to try to use them as an alternative energy source. Gas hydrates form when methane gas from the decomposition of organic material comes into contact with water at low temperatures and high pressures. Those cold, high-pressure conditions exist deep below the oceans and underground on land in certain parts of the world, including the ocean floor and permafrost areas of the Arctic.

Today, researchers are finding tremendous stores of gas hydrates throughout the world. In addition to Alaska, the United States has vast gas hydrate deposits in the Gulf of Mexico and off its eastern coast. Japan and India currently have among the largest, most well-funded hydrate research programs in the world.

Workers can, in theory, collect the gas using the same drilling technology used for conventional oil and gas drilling. We once relied on oil from Texas to run our country?will it soon be ice from Alaska?

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