Energy Department Seeks Methane Hydrate Proposals

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy is soliciting for another round of research into methane hydrates, the potentially huge energy source of "frozen gas" that could step in for shortages of other fossil fuels.

The department is looking for research projects on the North Slope of Alaska that could explore how to economically extract the gas locked in ice far below the Earth's surface.

DOE is also seeking researchers to document methane hydrate deposits in outer continental shelf waters of coastal states.

The DOE anticipates federal funding of $20 million over two years that could be leveraged into research costing $80 million, according to its "funding opportunity announcement."

A spokeswoman for the DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, Shelley Martin, said the department could not comment on funding opportunities while they are open.

Methane is the main ingredient of natural gas. It comes from buried organic matter after it's ingested by bacteria or heated and cooked. The gas migrates upward, under high pressure and low temperature, and can combine with water to form methane hydrate.

The DOE describes methane hydrate as a lattice of ice that traps the molecules but does not bind them chemically. Methane is released when the combination of ice and gas is warmed or depressurized.


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