China Announces Breakthrough in New 'Ice Fuel'

China is being drilled into the bottom of the sea in the hope it could suck deposits frozen fossil fuel known as "combustible ice"-a mixture of water and natural gas are concentrated.

Gas hydrates can be burned in a frozen state and found at the bottom of the sea and also under a layer of ice. But experts say that extracting methane from ice crystals are difficult and expensive technology.

Energy-hungry China, one of the few countries that hope to capitalize on resources that are hard to reach to meet demand, recently announced a "historic breakthrough" in test drilling in the South China Sea.

In six weeks, China extracts over 235,000 cubic meters of gas hydrates off the coast of Guangdong, according to the web site of the China Geological Survey.
China Announces Breakthrough in New 'Ice Fuel'
"China has beaten expectations in finishing the experiment exploration of combustible ice by using local techniques and technological innovation," said Ye Jianliang, head of the Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey.

One cubic meter of gas hydrate, also known as "combustible ice" because methane can be lit, release 164 cubic meters of conventional natural gas extracted ever, said the US Department of energy.

Estimates for the size of the gas hydrate deposits the planets vary but the US says could exceed the "energy content of all the fossil fuels that are known to the other".

Analysts say substantial resources could be a "game changer" for countries that have limited access to a conventional natural gas. Some countries hope to change the gas hydrates become a viable energy source, including Japan which has reported success in drilling off the coast of the Pacific.

The U.S. also has obtained positive results from exploration drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

But the production of commercially viable is "ten years", said Paul Duerloo, partner and managing director at the Boston Consulting Group in Tokyo.

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