The successful collection of the frozen fuel was “a major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution,” said China’s Minister of Land and Resources, Jiang Daming.
‘Flammable Ice’ is methane hydrates with molecules of methane gas trapped in a lattice of ice crystals. It can exist only in conditions of very low temperatures and high pressure. One cubic meter of combustible ice is equal to 164 cubic meters of natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Agency.
In spite of the low temperature, the hydrates are easily flammable, as the gas encased in the ice catches fire once you bring it to a flame.
The discovery is China’s first success in the mining of flammable ice following almost twenty years of research and exploration, according to the ministry.
The mining site is reportedly located in the Shenhu area of the South China Sea, 300 kilometers from Hong Kong. The miners managed to extract a daily average of 16,000 cubic meters of gas with high purity from the site.
The natural gas hydrate is believed to be the best replacement for natural gas and oil. Moreover, fire ice is more environmentally safe and in large reserves, according to the head of the China Geological Survey Bureau, Zhong Ziran.