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Alaska ice tested as possible new energy source

By The Associated Press

This article was published November 11, 2012 at 12:36 p.m.

— 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 Houston-based 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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