Scientists unlock frozen natural gas April 16, 2008, Toronto Star http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/article/415215
A remote drilling rig high in the Mackenzie Delta has become the site of a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize the world's energy supply. For the first time, Canadian and Japanese researchers have managed to efficiently produce a constant stream of natural gas from ice-like gas hydrates that, worldwide, dwarf all known fossil fuel deposits combined. "We were able to sustain flow," said Scott Dallimore, the Geological Survey of Canada researcher in charge of the remote Mallik drilling program. "It worked." For a decade now, Dallimore and scientists from a half-dozen other countries have been returning to a site on Richards Island on the very northwestern tip of the Northwest Territories to study methane gas hydrates.
A hydrate is created when a molecule of gas – in this case, methane or natural gas – is trapped by high pressures and low temperatures inside a cage of water molecules. The result is almost – but not quite – ice. It's more like a dry, white slush suffusing the sand and gravel 1,000 metres beneath the Mallik rig. Heat or unsqueeze the hydrate and gas is released. Hold a core...
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