‘Unleashing the Monster’ of Climate Change, or a New Energy Source? You Won’t Believe What Researchers Are Doing With Alaskan ‘Ice’

(TheBlaze/AP) — 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 researchers think could 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.

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

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

Much is unknown but interest has accelerated over the last decade, Tim Collett, a research geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, added.

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