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China and Japan Are Extracting ‘Combustible Ice’ From the Sea Floor

Commercial development of the frozen fossil fuel, also called 'fire ice,' could be next after its successful mining.

Science By

Is “fire ice” the next major source of energy?

China and Japan have successfully extracted “combustible ice” from the seafloor near their shorelines, paving the way for the frozen fossil fuel to be commercially developed.

The substance, known officially as methane hydrate, is sometimes called “fire ice” since it can be set aflame while still frozen. The amalgam of condensed natural gas and frozen water is thought to be one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels.

Experts are quick to point out that the high cost and difficulty of extraction mean it could be years before the “combustible ice” is mined on a large enough scale to be a fuel source for mass consumption.

On Thursday, though, a Chinese drilling rig successfully extracted the fossil fuel from the bottom of the South China Sea, an area of disputed control and source of geopolitical tensions. The Chinese Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming said the achievement was the beginning of a “global energy revolution,” according to ABC News.

Japan reported a success extraction on May off the coast of the Shima Peninsula.

Read full story at ABC News