Creation of ‘Space Fuel’ in the lab: Miracle by IIT-M scientists

NewsBharati    09-Jan-2019

Chennai, Jan 9: The Space Fuel is seen as a next-generation sustainable source of energy. IIT-Madras scientists created ‘Space Fuel’ in Laboratory with simulating interstellar conditions. This method will use in future for conversion atmospheric CO2 in next-generation energy source on earth.

Research published in Journal proceedings if National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This research will help to curb greenhouse gases and provide a new, sustainable source of energy.

Clathrate hydrates are clathrate compounds in which the host molecule is water and the guest molecule is typically a gas or liquid. Without the support of the trapped molecules, the lattice structure of hydrate clathrates would collapse into conventional ice crystal structure or liquid water.

Such hydrates especially that of methane, are thought to be the future sources of fuel. Many nations across the world including India have programmes to explore hydrates in the ocean bed.

The researcher of IIT-M formed such hydrates in an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and temperature close to minus 263-degree Celsius, similar to conditions which are presented in deep space.

From IIT-M, Mr. Pradip Thalapil said, “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.”

Further, he added, The excitement happened after 3 days. New features started coming. Then several experiments were done under controlled conditions.

According to researchers, such hydrates were also formed with carbon dioxide. Co-author of the study, Rajnish Kumar stated “ 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.”

In hydrates, molecular confinement can result in new chemistry, especially in presence of cosmic light present in the interstellar environment. Understanding this chemistry may be important to better understand the origins of life.