we don’t need to ever run out of gas – The oil and gas that fuels our homes and cars started out as living organisms that died (or did it?), were compressed, and heated under heavy layers of sediments in the earth’s crust. Scientists have debated for years whether some of these hydrocarbons could also have been created deeper in the Earth and formed without organic matter. Now they think this could be the case.
For the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle, which is the layer of earth under the crust and on top of the core. Methane (CH4) is the main constituent of natural gas, while ethane (C2H6) is used as a petrochemical feedstock. When scientists subjected methane to pressures exceeding 20 thousand times the atmospheric pressure at sea level and temperatures ranging from 1,300 F to over 2,240 F, in order to mimic conditions found 40 to 95 miles deep inside the earth, the methane reacted and formed ethane, propane, butane, molecular hydrogen, and graphite. The scientists then subjected ethane to the same conditions and it produced methane. The transformations suggest heavier hydrocarbons could exist deep down inside the earth.
If we run out of gas, maybe we just need to dig DEEPER! But that doesn’t solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming.
Those of you who read our daily news of the edge and listen to our great radio shows, know where Whitley got the information that led to his writing The Coming Global Superstorm, which was made into the hit movie The Day After Tomorrow, and helped get the word out about global warming.
Art credit: Dreamstime.com
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