QUOTE(Bikerdad @ Mar 19 2005, 09:34 PM)
Methane hydrates may be a REALLY big part of our energy future. With more than 200 TRILLION, (ja, "trillion" with a t
) cubic feet, the USGS estimated reserves contain enough energy to supply the entire US economy (i.e., all of our energy needs currently met by oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, solar, and whatever else) for 2,000 years.Mining the Ocean
Of course, getting this energy will require work, and have some environmental impact.
Question is: Will the environmental movement get on board, be neutral, or be obstructionist
Loaded question, eh? How about agree, disagree or remain neutral?
From the article:
Now the tough part is figuring out how to competitively mine this resource. They reside after all in tough-to-reach low temperature-high pressure settings, in particular in sediments under some 500 meters or more of water and in some Arctic continental areas. Deep-water operations obviously will not come cheap. What's more, the environmental implications of exploiting these deposits still have to be explored.
Mechanical Engineering poses the question, "Will methane hydrate fuel the future?" The answer seems to be "we'll see"--researchers still have to figure out how much producible methane there is in these frozen deposits.
I think the question here is where we want to focus the resources we have now, both in talent and dollars.
Burning anything isn't a clean energy source. At minimal, CO2 gets released into the atmosphere. If the ecosystem isn't capable of absorbing the released CO2, then CO2 rises in the atmosphere -- that's the basic idea of the carbon cycle:More Info about the Carbon Cycle
A much better source of energy involves not burning carbon that has been locked up in the Earth for millions of years. Hydroelectric uses the sun's energy indirectly (sun evaporates water, water falls as rain and snow, water comes down the hill by gravity, water turns turbine). Solar electrical generation tech converts the sun's energy directly into electricity. Geothermal electrical generation uses the Earth's internal heat to produce steam that turns the turbine. Biomass burning does release CO2, but the ecosystem is capable of reabsorbing the gas.
Another alternative that has been successfully implemented involves capturing the energy in sea tides. And of course there's the wind generation idea.
Generate electricity with these alternatives and use the electricity to crack water into hydrogen and oxygen. Burn these two gases to reproduce the water -- that's the scheme that makes the most sense to me.
Environmentalists, ecologists, scientists and anybody concerned about bringing more CO2 into the atmosphere will be against this mining and for putting our resources into very clean, non-CO2 releasing alternatives.
The bottom line is this: We no longer need to poke holes in the Earth to extract fossilized fuels. The faster we go toward non-CO2 releasing alternatives, the better. If this is becoming a major movement on the planet, then good for us.