Space Fuel, IIT Madras, Carbondioxide,
Image Source: The Financial Express

Chennai: IIT Madras scientists have developed something that they claim as ‘space fuel’ by simulating interstellar conditions in the laboratory. This is a method that is claimed to be having the ability to be used for the conversion of atmospheric CO2 into a next-generation energy source on Earth.

As per the research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), it is claimed that this could address effectively to curb greenhouse gases at the same time providing a fresh, sustainable source of energy. “What we have found is that molecules like methane and ammonia in space could exist in a completely different form than what is known to us,” Thalappil Pradeep of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras told PTI.

Clathrate hydrates are the molecules like methane, carbon dioxide, etc., captured in perfectly made cages of water molecules leading to the formation of crystalline solids. These are developed at greater pressures and nominal temperatures at different zones like the ocean floor, hundreds of meters under the sea level. These can be found within the Siberia like glaciers as well.

There are multiple nations over the globe including India have plans to discover hydrates in the ocean bed. Research experts from IIT Madras have also developed the gases like hydrates in a vacuum, one thousand billion times lower in comparison with atmospheric pressure, which is touted as the ultra-high vacuum (UHV) at a temperature in approximation around minus 263 degree Celsius. These are the conditions present in deep space.

“Normally, in UHV experiments, spectroscopic changes are monitored only for minutes, maybe an hour. I thought that why not wait for days and keep observing the changes. After all, ice and methane have been sitting in the space for millions of years,” said Pradeep. “The excitement happened after three days.

New features started coming. Then, of course, several experiments were done under controlled conditions,” he said. “Trapping carbon dioxide in hydrates is a way to reduce global warming. One can sequester carbon dioxide gas as solid hydrates under the sea bed,” said Rajnish Kumar, who is a co-author in this study.


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