[Fwd: [biofuel] Huge Hydrogen Stores Found Below Earth's Crust]
- Good news for a change!
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Subject: [biofuel] Huge Hydrogen Stores Found Below Earth's Crust
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 07:54:19 -0700 (PDT)
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From: krisbook@... (Kris Book) : Discovery Suggests Near Limitless
Supply of Clean Fuel :
By Robert Matthews : Vancouver Sun :
Monday, April 15, 2002 :
LONDON -- Scientists have discovered vast quantities of hydrogen gas,
widely regarded as the most promising alternative to today's dwindling
stocks of fossil fuels, lying beneath the Earth's crust.
The discovery has stunned energy experts, who believe that it could
provide virtually limitless supplies of clean fuel for cars, homes and
Governments across the world are urgently seeking ways of switching from
conventional energy sources such as coal, gas and nuclear power to
cleaner, safer alternatives.
Energy specialists estimate that oil production will start to decline
within the next 10 to 15 years, as the economically viable reserves
start to run out.
Hydrogen gas has been hailed as the ultimate clean fuel, as it produces
only water when burned. Until now, however, moves to switch to a
"hydrogen economy" have been dogged by the cost of making the gas.. The
two most common ways -- extraction from natural gas and sea water -- are
expensive and create environmental problems.
Now scientists at the American space agency NASA have found that the
Earth's crust is a vast natural reservoir of hydrogen which has become
trapped in ancient rocks.
The team made its discovery while trying to explain how bacteria live
many miles below the Earth's surface. Such bugs have no access to
sunlight, forcing them to rely on another source of energy for life.
Scientists suspected that hydrogen was the source.
According to Professor Friedemann Freund and colleagues at NASA's Ames
Research Center in California, the gas is produced when water molecules
trapped inside molten rock break down to release hydrogen.
"In the top 20 kilometres of the Earth's crust, the conditions are right
to produce a nearly inexhaustible supply of hydrogen," said Professor
Studies by the team of common rock types such as granite and olivine
have revealed extraordinarily high levels of trapped hydrogen. Professor
Freund said that his team had "tantalizing evidence" that as much as
1,000 litres of hydrogen may be trapped in each cubic metre of rock.
Although formidable engineering problems remain to be overcome in
abstracting the gas, the sheer volume of the Earth's crust means that
such a high concentration would solve the world's energy problems.
"Everyone thinks of gas and oil as the main sources, and it's very
difficult to get anyone to take alternatives seriously," said Dr. David
Elliott, the professor of technology policy at the Open University in
London. "The possibility of vast reserves of hydrogen in the Earth's
crust could change that mindset."
The low yield of energy from burning hydrogen compared to gas, however,
means that vast quantities of rock would have to be mined.
Professor Freund believes that the extraction and crushing of rock to
extract the trapped hydrogen is likely to be prohibitively expensive.
The reaction which creates the gas takes place at depths far below those
involved in oil extraction, which are typically about two miles down.
The most promising source of the hydrogen may be geological "traps"
similar to those now drilled for natural gas. Professor Freund said:
"One of these natural hydrogen fields is already known to exist in North
America, and extends from Canada to Kansas."
© Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun
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