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‘Flammable ice’: Russia to help China lead next global energy revolution

‘Flammable ice’: Russia to help China lead next global energy revolution
Russian specialists have been invited by Chinese scientists to explore deposits of gas hydrate, also known as fire ice, on the seafloor of the South China Sea. The joint expedition is set to start in July this year.

Plans for the joint mission were revealed by the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, physicist Aleksandr Sergeyev, who said that existing data shows that there are natural gas fields in the region.

“The Chinese side is looking for methane emissions [in the South China Sea] and links them to the presence of [gas] reserves. They invited us to take part in the expedition dedicated to exploration of gas hydrates, which begins approximately in July,” Sergeyev told TASS on Tuesday.

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China, one of the world’s largest energy consumers, lacks its own natural gas reserves and thus has a huge interest in the mission, the scientist explained. Both countries have their own research vessels for expeditions, which can be carried off China’s south coast and other areas.

Gas hydrate, also known as methane hydrate, are icelike solids, in which small molecules of gas are trapped inside frozen water molecules. The substance is also known as flammable ice as the gas inside allows it easily catch fire despite low temperatures.

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Natural gas hydrate is believed to be the best replacement for natural gas and oil. The volume of carbon contained in methane hydrates worldwide is estimated to be twice the amount contained in all fossil fuels on Earth, including coal, according to the US Geological Survey.

China is actively developing gas hydrate exploration. In 2017, Chinese miners successfully collected the frozen fuel for the first time from underneath the South China Sea.

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