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ANCHORAGE, Alaska ? A half mile below the ground at Prudhoe Bay, above the vast oil field that helped trigger construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline, a drill rig has tapped what might one day be the next big energy source.

The U.S. Department of Energy and industry partners over two winters drilled into a reservoir of methane hydrate, which looks like ice but burns like a candle if a match warms its molecules. There is little need now for methane, the main ingredient of natural gas. With the boom in production from hydraulic fracturing, the United States is awash in natural gas for the near future and is considering exporting it, but the DOE wants to be ready with methane if there's a need.

"If you wait until you need it, and then you have 20 years of research to do, that's not a good plan," said Ray Boswell, technology manager for methane hydrates within the DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The nearly $29 million science experiment on the North Slope produced 1 million cubic feet of methane. Researchers have begun the complex task of analyzing how the reservoir responded to extraction.

The U.S. Energy Department describes methane hydrate as a lattice of ice that traps methane molecules but does not bind them chemically. They are released when warmed or depressurized.

Methane 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.

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ok im obviously missing something ... I must be misunderstanding... so its methane... in ice... so you wont need methane ? or did I misread that

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^ It's methane hydrate -- which apparently burns hotter, and is easier to get at in ice, as opposed to drilling deep underground for it.

And methane in ice, won't suddenly explode as underground methane can, under the right conditions.

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^ It's methane hydrate -- which apparently burns hotter, and is easier to get at in ice, as opposed to drilling deep underground for it.

And methane in ice, won't suddenly explode as underground methane can, under the right conditions.

ahh ok (Y) got ya ... even still... I can see the benefits but still is not a solution to fossil fuels

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Why don't we just use Hydrogen? The most abundant element in the universe.

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ahh ok (Y) got ya ... even still... I can see the benefits but still is not a solution to fossil fuels

Agreed. We really don't need gases and oil. But we need the will to break free from the tired old beliefs that keep us attached to these energy sources.

Why don't we just use Hydrogen? The most abundant element in the universe.

We could -- but hydrogen is more difficult to produce, handle, and dangerous.

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This was what the Ice Road truckers in season two were moving the Rig for.

The truckers have delivered the fragile 135-foot derrick to the new MGM exploration site, but before it can be erected, they must also transport the 80-ton substructure that will form its base. At 160,000 pounds, the base must be broken into separate loads, the combined weight of which makes them the heaviest--and most dangerous--loads the ice will face all season. Veteran trucker Bear Swenson and Arctic Ice Road rookie Alex Debogorski are entrusted with the challenge. This is the heaviest load of Alex's ice road career. Compounded by on-going and increasing health problems, the pressure on this trucker is rising fast.

TVPG L

APA Style

16 - Hundred Ton Haul. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 6:49, November 11, 2012, from http://www.history.com/shows/ice-road-truckers/episodes/ice-road-truckers-season-2-episodes.

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"If you wait until you need it, and then you have 20 years of research to do, that's not a good plan," said Ray Boswell, technology manager for methane hydrates within the DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Sounds like a plan to me.

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Why don't we just use Hydrogen? The most abundant element in the universe.

Just what we need a bunch of little Hydrogen bombs driving around.

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