University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Resourceful Device

Risk and expense of extensive drilling not required with new energy sourcing device

Physics researchers have developed a device capable of finding and measuring an energy resource that could power Canada’s future. The electrical remote-sensing device has already quantified a deposit of methane hydrate, a natural gas energy resource, off the west coast of Vancouver Island. “Methane hydrate is quite possibly the last great hydrocarbon resource,” says physics professor Nigel Edwards. “These types of deposits could well be the major energy resource of the 21st century. And the raw material, if properly accessed, harnessed and processed, is safe and clean.” Edwards and his team identified a 10-square-kilometre area that he says would provide the equivalent of six years of electricity consumption in Canada. The remote-sensing device is the first technology that can not only help locate methane hydrate but can also determine how much is present — all without the time, risk and expense of extensive drilling.

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