To discover a new energy source, China has debuted Mengxiang, the world’s most sophisticated ocean research ship, which can drill to depths of more than 36,000 feet.
China is looking into and developing new forms of alternative energy as it imports more oil and gas than any other country. China is now looking into several unique energy sources, and methane hydrate is one of them.
A combination of methane and water, methane hydrates are white and consistent with ice. Their energy-generating potential has not been fully realized. Miniature water molecules serve as cages for the methane molecules, which can be extracted and used for fuel.
With sufficient study and development, China may harness its power and dovetail it into its energy mix. The first trial trip of the vessel, which can explore deep-sea oil and gas for up to 120 days straight and cover 15,000 nautical miles, will depart from Guangzhou City on Friday.
The Mariana Trench is 35,814 feet deep and the ocean’s deepest point. Mengxiang can reach and drill to a depth of 36,089 feet.
The Mengxiang is a 300-square-meter laboratory divided into nine rooms devoted to different study areas, including microbiology, rock magnetic field research, marine science, and more. The Digital Twin system was one of the leading technologies used to build the ship; it would enable simultaneous scientific research and ambitious drilling operations.
With an estimated 80 billion metric tons of potentially explosive ice in its water, China is among the top nations attempting to extract methane hydrate. In the resource-rich South China Sea, embroiled in territorial conflicts with neighboring nations, the Asian behemoth has been more assertive in its maritime power in recent years.
China asserts its sovereignty over almost the South China Sea, home to over $3 trillion worth of yearly maritime commerce—including territories claimed by Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.