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Methane hydrate, Japan's potential new source of heat

Methane hydrate is a crystal of methane gas -- it is a cold, white natural fuel that is found en masse at the bottom of the ocean. Best yet, it gives off heat when burned. Japan is seriously hoping that methane hydrate will become a reliable source of heat in the next 15 years, and plans to begin a drilling project next January in the Pacific Ocean off of Japan. As Tetsuo Yonezama of the Japan National Oil Corp. puts it, "Japan's domestic resources are almost zero, so nonconventional sources are a top priority... There are still a lot of uncertainties," he said. "But the potential is too big to ignore."

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