At an interview with Xinhua News Agency on 19 January 2017, Vice President Sun Youhong of China’s Jilin University said that after more than 10 years of study, a research team of the University has developed a new technology extracting natural gas by burning flammable ice (or gas hydrate) founded in permafrost in China’s Qilan Mountains). This new technology is proved more practicable as its major technical specifications outperformed the competing technologies developed by other countries. According to Sun, as vast quantities of gas hydrate are generally available in ocean sediments, next step the research team will study how to acquire it from the South China Sea , so that this technology can be broadly commercialized.
Gas hydrate, also called flammable ice, will generate a very small amount of carbon dioxide and water when burned. While this energy source has a relatively small environmental footprint compared with other energy sources (say coal, fossil oil and natural gas), it produces 10 times the amount of energy that can be produced from coal, oil and gas. China has identified vast reserves of gas hydrate, and it is estimated that the total organic carbon contained in gas hydrate doubles that from the world’s known coal, oil and natural gas reserves in total, and it is thus internationally recognized as the alternative energy source in replace of oil or gas.