Alaska ice tested as possible new energy source

Associated Press
In this 2012 photo provided by ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc., a drill rig at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope is seen. This rig is testing a method for extracting methane from methane hydrate. The department describes methane hydrate as a lattice of ice that traps methane molecules but does not bind them chemically. A half mile below the ground at Prudhoe Bay, above the vast oil field that helped trigger construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline, a drill rig has tapped what might one day be the next big energy source. The U.S. Department of Energy and industry partners over two winters drilled into a reservoir of methane hydrate, which looks like ice but burns like a candle as warmth from a match releases methane molecules. (AP Photo/ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc., Garth Hannum)
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Researchers are looking into frozen gas that looks like ice but burns like a candle as a possible future source of energy.

U.S. Department of Energy researchers and industry partners are analyzing data from trials on Alaska's North Slope that tested a method of extracting methane from methane hydrate. That's a lattice of ice that traps gas molecules but does not bind them chemically.

An increase in temperature or a drop in pressure releases the methane, which is the main ingredient in natural gas.

The Alaska research tested a technique developed by ConocoPhillips and the University of Bergen in Norway — injecting carbon dioxide into hydrate.

In the lab, CO2 molecules swapped places with methane molecules, freeing methane to be harvested but preserving the ice.

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