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Japan gathering forces to mine 'burning ice' energy

Chiyoda Corp., JGC among companies helping to commercialize methane hydrate

Offshore drilling for methane hydrate has been tested by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, but costs are still high.

TOKYO -- About 50 Japanese companies are joining forces to support the commercialization of methane hydrate, a fuel anticipated in Japan as a next-generation energy source.

Methane hydrate, also known as "burning ice" for its icelike form, contains methane, which is also found in natural gas. But costs to extract and transport the fuel beneath the ocean floor remain an obstacle. By spearheading commercialization, Japan hopes to lead in exploiting the new energy, which could replace nuclear power or liquefied natural gas.

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