Japan has extracted gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate — sometimes called “flammable ice” — a breakthrough that officials and experts said could be a step toward tapping a promising but still little-understood energy source. Japan hopes to make methane hydrate commercially viable in 5 years.
With specialized equipment, the team drilled into and then lowered the pressure in the undersea methane hydrate reserve, causing the methane and ice to separate. It then piped the natural gas to the surface. The surrounding area in the Nankai submarine trough holds at least 1.1 trillion cubic meters, or 39 trillion cubic feet, of methane hydrate, enough to meet 11 years’ worth of gas imports to Japan.
A separate rough estimate by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has put the total amount of methane hydrate in the water surrounding Japan at more than 7 trillion cubic meters, or what researchers have long said is closer to 100 years’ worth of Japan’s natural gas needs.
The EIA estimates the naturally occurring gas hydrate resource vary from 10,000 trillion cubic feet to more than 100,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The 100,000 trillion cf would be an energy resource of 105,000 EJ. Tapping such resources would require significant additional research and technological improvements
There is about 4.4 billion tons of uranium in seawater. Deep burn nuclear fission (where reactors that can burn all of the uranium for energy) would enable 217 million EJ of energy to be produced.