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China Successful in Producing Methane from Gas Hydrates on Ocean Floor

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EIRNS—In an article published today in Chemistry World, author Hepeng Jia reported that China has successfully gone through a six-week trial of generating methane from gas hydrates located on the floor of the South China Sea. "Gas hydrates are formed at low temperatures and high pressures and consist of a cage of frozen water molecules in which gases can be trapped. Given that large deposits of hydrates—also known as clathrates—that hold methane have been found on seabeds around the world there has been great interest in tapping them as an energy source," Chemistry World wrote.

Last May, China’s Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming said that the successful collection of the frozen fuel was "a major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution," according to state media, BBC reported. Although many technological challenges lie ahead, the successful six-week trial is expected to be a step forward in exploiting an energy source which could be a game changer for the energy industry, similar to the U.S. shale boom, BBC wrote.

Also last May, Japan, another large importer of energy, reported success in producing gas by extracting methane gas from gas hydrate deposits offshore of Japan’s central coast. The tests were run at two different wells when Japan achieved the world’s first-ever extraction of gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate, a frozen gas known as "flammable ice," Reuters reported on May 8. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said the methane hydrate production tests will continue for four to five weeks, Reuters reported.