Fire ice – “Dallas” turns into reality?

14 Mar

Did Bobby Ewing’s son hit the nail on the head? Natural gas could become even more abundant and cheap.

Japan just announced that it managed to extract natural gas from methane hydrates. If you watch the new “Dallas” series remake, you already know what this is – the seemingly sci-fi idea put forward by Bobby Ewing’s adopted son, Christopher. If not, here is a short summary:

“Methane hydrate is a cage-like lattice of ice inside of which are trapped molecules of methane, the chief constituent of natural gas. If methane hydrate is either warmed or depressurized, it will revert back to water and natural gas.” And it looks like ice and it can be set alight, apparently in your bare hands – hence the catchy name of fire ice.

Fire ice. Source:

Japan wants to commercialize the technology by 2018 – which is fast, and may mean that they are probably at an advanced stage (they have a research program going back for more than 10 years).

This is important because it could mean even cheaper gas. Global methane hydrate resources are truly enormous. They could be twice as large as all other fossil energy sources together, and at current gas consumption rates, they could cover gas consumption for as much as about a 1000 years. And they can be found in all kinds of places, from the Gulf of Mexico to the seas of energy-poor Japan.

Methane hydrate can be found in many places. Source: U.S. Dept of Energy

Ultra-cheap gas could replace both oil and coal use – we would be in a methane economy, and that would mean a lot lower emissions of all kinds of pollutants.

That would not solve the CO2 problem, but would buy plenty of time. Replacing all oil and coal use with gas would reduce global fossil fuel CO2 emissions by at least a third, and likely more.

Times are changing, and it shows in the more eco-friendly remake of “Dallas”, too, with leading characters on the show driving electric cars and plug-in hybrids. But don’t be mistaken, people still watch it for the intrigues and greed, no matter if it’s oil or methane hydrate. To quote good old J.R. from the series: “Like my daddy always said, where there’s a way, there’s a will.”


The future is calling. Source:

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