Natural gas crystals: Energy under the sea

Mike Schuler
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March 11, 2010

By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer – CNNMoney.com

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — It looks like ice — but this ice could one day be used to heat your home.

It’s actually not ice at all, but crystallized natural gas, and if scientists can figure out how to harvest it cheaply enough, it could become a vast new source of energy available in just about every country in the world.

The big advantage to these crystals, known as methane hydrates, are their abundance. They are found beneath the sea floor off every continent, and under the arctic tundra.

Plus, they’re estimated to hold twice as much carbon as all the known reserves of oil, coal and natural gas combined.

“The potential is enough to power humanity from now until the asteroid hits,” said Peter Tertzakian, chief energy economist at ARC Financial, a Calgary-based private equity firm.

But citing cost and the abundance of conventional natural gas, Tertzakian said this resource will likely “remain on the margins” for two or three decades.

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