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posted by martyb on Sunday January 09 2022, @09:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the Red-Adair dept.

Turkmenistan's leader wants 'Gates of Hell' fire put out:

The president of Turkmenistan is calling for an end to one of the country's most notable but infernal sights — the blazing natural gas crater widely referred to as the "Gates of Hell."

The desert crater located about 260 kilometers (160 miles) north of the capital, Ashgabat, has burned for decades and is a popular sight for the small number of tourists who come to Turkmenistan, a country which is difficult to enter.

The Turkmen news site Turkmenportal said a 1971 gas-drilling collapse formed the crater, which is about 60 meters (190 feet) in diameter and 20 meters (70 feet) deep. To prevent the spread of gas, geologists set a fire, expecting the gas to burn off in a few weeks.

[...] The spectacular if unwelcome fire that has burned ever since is so renowned that state TV showed President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov speeding around it in an off-road truck in 2019.

But Berdymukhamedov has ordered his government to look for ways to put the fire out because it is causing ecological damage and affecting the health of people living in the area, state newspaper Neitralny Turkmenistan reported Saturday.

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09 2022, @06:24PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09 2022, @06:24PM (#1211280)

    Is the soil around it stable and relatively impervious? I'm thinking that if they built a foundation around it they could then construct a large metal dome over it. As the last panel of the dome is put in place, they would need to carefully maintain pressure by blowing air in, keeping the fire going so that the dome didn't implode. Then, once they had control of the situation they could gradually reduce combustion until the whole setup cooled. The gas would still be flared, but in a controlled manner. Then once they had a well controlled flare, they could transition that in to clean-burning gas fired power plant.

    I'm guessing that this would be a very expensive one-off that isn't guaranteed to work though, probably because the soil isn't stable. If you dig near it, it will just expand the hole, right?

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  • (Score: 2) by corey on Sunday January 09 2022, @10:28PM (1 child)

    by corey (2202) on Sunday January 09 2022, @10:28PM (#1211332)

    Interesting thought.

    My thought is, there wouldn’t be any need for a power station in the desert. It’s 260km from the capital. Might be better to build a solar plant.

    Maybe be best if they put the fire out (just fill in with dirt I’d say), then extract the methane to sell.

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:28AM

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:28AM (#1211706)

      It's a big flaming hole, it's presumably *already* filled in with dirt. But air (or gas) can pass through all the tiny gaps in the dirt fairly easily, allowing flames to burn on the surface (see: every sand-, gravel-, or crushed-glass filled novelty gas fireplace).

      Natural gas only stays in the ground if it gets trapped under large domes of unbroken stone. And once we punch a hole through that stone - usually to get at the oil that also gets trapped underneath, then the gas will flow up and out unless the hole is patched with something non-permeable. And that rock dome tends to be pretty deep underground, meaning that to stop the leak in a collapsed well you'll have to first dig all the way down to it so that it can be patched. Without creating any sparks that could start the fire going again.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:40AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:40AM (#1211399)

    Perhaps construct a dome around it and funnel the gas to people's homes for heating.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:48PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:48PM (#1211506)

      Perhaps use platinum catalysts to split the methane into hydrogen and carbon, which can be compressed to make diamonds that will make everyone RICH!!!!!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @05:25PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @05:25PM (#1211541)

        ... or they could just fill it with sand and create the worlds largest piece of glass?