Sustainable energy source???

From: janice matchett <janmatch@earthlink.net>
Date: Thu Nov 03 2005 - 09:32:31 EST

Eureka alert!! :) --- http://www.eurekalert.org Janice

World-first technology enables study of ancient bacteria

Sustainable energy source could solve Bermuda Triangle riddle

Experts at Cardiff University, UK, have designed world-first technology to
investigate sustainable energy sources from the ocean bed by isolating
ancient high-pressure bacteria from deep sediments.

Scientists and engineers at Cardiff University are investigating bacteria
from deep sediments which despite high pressures (greater than 1,000
atmospheres), gradually increasing temperatures (from an icy 2C to over
100C), great depth (several kilometres) and age (many millions of years)
may contain most of the bacteria on Earth.

Some of these bacteria produce methane that accumulates in "gas hydrates" –
a super concentrated methane ice that contains more carbon than all
conventional fossil fuels and, therefore, a potentially enormous energy
source. However, we know little about gas hydrates as they melt during
recovery due to the fall in pressure.

Professor R. John Parkes, of the School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary
Sciences at Cardiff University, is leading part of a major European Union
project, called HYACINTH which is developing systems to recover gas
hydrates and bacteria under high pressure.

He has turned to experts in the University's Manufacturing Engineering
Centre to help create a system that would enable his team to grow, isolate
and study these ancient bacteria in the laboratory.

"DNA analysis of deep sediments has shown diverse bacterial populations,
including major new types, but we have been unable to culture them and this
might be because we have not been able to keep them at the very high
pressures which they need to survive," said Professor Parkes.

The Manufacturing Engineering Centre in the School of Engineering has
helped design and produce a high-pressure system, which is the first of its
kind in the world.

Using titanium and stainless steel alloys, and sapphire windows, the
Centre's experts have built an isolation system, as well as a special
cutting chamber to enable scientists to take precise sediment samples and
grow bacteria from them at pressures as high as 1,000 atmospheres. A
special ram for the system was produced by the Technical University, Berlin.

As well as studying potentially the deepest organisms on Earth this
research might also throw light on the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle by
finding out more about the behaviour of the mysterious hydrates.

One theory now suggests that when the covering of "methane ice" which
exists over much of the seabed of the Bermuda Triangle becomes unstable;
this causes instability of the sea and an explosive mixture of air and
methane above. Any ships or planes travelling over the area could sink or
catch fire.

"So ancient, deep-sediment bacteria may be a key to sustainable energy in
the future and to explaining a few disasters," said Professor Parkes.

Public release date:
6-Jun-2005 http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-06/cu-wte060605.php

Contact: Professor R.John
Parkes <mailto:ParkesJ2@cardiff.ac.uk>ParkesJ2@cardiff.ac.uk
44-29-2087-0058 <http://www.cardiff.ac.uk>Cardiff University
Received on Thu Nov 3 09:35:27 2005

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