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Scottish seabed could hold fuel of the future

Scottish seabed  could hold fuel of the future
THE seabed off the coast of north Scotland could hold key reserves of a valuable new fuel, energy chiefs have revealed.

THE seabed off the coast of north Scotland could hold key reserves of a valuable new fuel, energy chiefs have revealed.

Deposits of methane hydrates, dubbed “fire ice”, may be locked deep under the North Sea in waters west of Shetland.

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said some experts believe the sherbet-like substance may be present in Scottish waters.

And overseas experts claim the potential new fuel – being investigated in multimillion-pound tests by countries like Japan – could hold the key to powering nations for hundreds of years to come.

But because commercial technology for capturing fire ice is in its infancy, the UK Government said no estimate can be placed on the quantity of reserves in north waters.

Last night academics said methane hydrates will become big business in the future and its possibilities cannot be ignored.

But fears have also been raised about the volatility of the substance, which could carry major environmental risks that could speed up climate change.

Fire ice – originally though to only be present in the outer Solar System – is made up of frozen water molecules that trap methane gas in a lattice-like structure. There are CO2 hydrates on Mars, while on Earth most are filled with methane gas.

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