WATCHING THE WORLD: Japan exploring methane hydrate

In a bid to move Japan toward energy self-sufficiency, the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is promoting technologies to provide new fuel sources, among them methane hydrate.Described by some observers as a sherbet-like substance, methane hydrate is a mixture of methane trapped in frozen water. Some reports say the energy generated by each cubic meter of hydrate is equal to that released by up to 180 cu m of natural gas.Word of the new resource emerged last February when a research team from the University of Tokyo and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) announced that it had successfully tapped a cache of methane hydrate lying relati...

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