'Flammable ice' could be mined for fuel

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by Michael, Apr 23, 2008.

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Should we try mining flammable ice?

  1. Yes - lets do it!

    4 vote(s)
    57.1%
  2. Holy poop Xenu, Earth just went up like a lit fart!

    3 vote(s)
    42.9%
  1. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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  3. Enmos Staff Member

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    I thought it was rather unstable..
     
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  5. synthesizer-patel Sweep the leg Johnny! Valued Senior Member

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    methane is primarily the same stuff most of us use to heat our homes and cook our food - so using methane hydrates wouldn't pose many extra safety concerns.

    Its not really any solution to replacing fossil fuels, as it generally originates from deposits of natural gas in the crust (AFAIK) - it would help to prolong our use of them though - I guess it depends on your point of view as to whether this is a good or bad thing

    its not really any solution to climate change either as it is in itself a very potent green house gas as has been pointed out - and so is one of the products of its combustion - CO2

    It also supports some very interesting and potentially important (and profitable) chemoautotrophic bacteria and associated symbiotes - it would be shame if we destroyed the environment before understanding its potential fully.
     
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  7. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    How so?

    I mean elaborate please

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  8. synthesizer-patel Sweep the leg Johnny! Valued Senior Member

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    well - the bacteria that are able to metabolise the methane - and live at extreme cold / extreme depth etc, have a very unique physiology that enables them to do so - they are generically described as "Extremophiles". The enzymes etc they produce can often have extremely valuable uses in industry, medicine etc as they can work at high pressures, low temperatures, in different solvents etc.

    For example, japanese scientists are working with a deep sea bacteria (from the marianas trench no less!) that can survive and thrive in organic solvents like toluene - the implications for this for the pharmaceutical industry are massive - previously when they have to ferment steroid and other fat based products, they need huge vats, as they have very low solubility in water - if we could ferment them in something like toluene we could do it in a bucket - basically drastically reducing the cost for producing many drugs.

    a real life example of this is something call TAQ polymerase - it was derived from extremophile bacteria that live in hot springs. It enables us to replicate and amplify DNA in a test tube in much the same way as it happens in nature.
    Not only is it worth somewhere in the region of $100billion a year to the global economy, but its cultural impact in terms of providing a greater understanding of evolution and human origins is massive - not to mention the contribution it has made to law enforcement and forensic science.
    And that's just one product!!!
     

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