Ice that burns could be a green fossil fuel

Natural gas locked up in water crystals could be a source of enormous amounts of energy – and if a new technology delivers what scientists are claiming, then it could even be emissions-free too.

For a normal eye, clathrate hydrate looks like regular ice. However, while it is made up partly of water, the water molecules are organised into "cages", which trap individual molecules of methane inside them.

If we compare this to other fossil fuels, methane – also known as natural gas – releases less carbon dioxide per unit of energy generated. But burning it still releases carbon dioxide and thus drives climate change.

However, according to research presented this week at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, a new method of extracting the methane could effectively make it a carbon-neutral fossil fuel.

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