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DOE Funds Methane Hydrate Research

November 14, 2005
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The Department of Energy (DOE) announced a total of $2 million in funding to five research projects that will assess the energy potential, safety, and environmental aspects of methane hydrate exploration and development.

Termed the "ice that burns," methane hydrates are crystalline solids that release a flammable gas when melted. They are considered the Earth's biggest potential source of hydrocarbon energy and could be a key element in meeting natural gas demand in the United States, which is expected to increase nearly 50% by 2025.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the nation's methane hydrate resource could total as much as 200,000 Tcf of natural gas, providing energy to underpin the future hydrogen economy. In the United States, hydrate deposits are found far beneath the sea floor in coastal waters and below the permafrost of Alaska's arctic north. If only one percent of that gas can be recovered, the nation would more than double its natural gas resources.

The total value of the projects is approximately $3.3 million, with university and science institute partners providing the remaining funds. The selected projects will examine the resource potential, recoverability, safety aspects, and climate change questions surrounding methane hydrates. The projects are described below:

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