'Space fuel' created by scientists!

'Space fuel' created by scientists!

'space fuel’has been created by the IIT Madras scientists by simulating interstellar conditions in the lab, a method that may be used to convert atmospheric CO2 into a next generation energy source on Earth. The National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Proceedings could help curb greenhouse gases and also provide a new, sustainable source of energy. They found that molecules like methane and ammonia in space could exist in a completely different form. Clathrate hydrates are molecule like methane, carbon dioxide etc, trapped in well-defined cages of water molecules forming crystalline solids. They are formed at high pressures and low temperatures at places such as the ocean floor, hundreds of meters below the sea level and also found in glaciers such as in Siberia. Especially such hydrates like methane are thought to be the future sources of fuel. For exploring hydrates in the ocean bed many nations across the world including India have programmes. Below the atmospheric pressure called ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and temperature close to minus 263 degree Celsius IIT Madras researchers formed such hydrates in vacuum, one thousand billion times. At extremely low pressures and ultra-cold temperatures this discovery of hydrates is highly unexpected and may have several implications for the chemistry of such atmospheres. For such studies, an experimental UHV was specially built which housed several spectroscopic probes. Nanometer thin layers of ice and methane were prepared by condensing a mixture of the gases on a specially made single crystal of ruthenium metal. The formation of the hydrates was studied by spectroscopy. This time for the spectroscopic changes in UHV experiments they waited for days and kept observing the changes, normally they are monitored only for minutes or an hour. After the three days new features started coming. Then several experiments were done under controlled conditions. Molecular confinement inhydrates can result in new chemistry, especially in presence of cosmic light present in interstellar environment.

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