Friday, April 01, 2005

DEUTERIUM : The White Gold of The Philippines.

When I was in highschool, Michael Peralta, an old neighborhood friend from Carmen Street but who is now residing in Los Angeles, once spoke to me in a very animated fashion how the Philippines could one day become the richest country in the world. As a prelude, Michael said to me that his father had some vital information why a number of foreigners were in the country for a very secret purpose. I wondered loudly to him how secret it was and asked him if he could actually let me know some of the “secret’. He then informed me without hesitation that the foreigners were here mainly to study and find out ways on how to extract deuterium from the Philippine seas. I asked how come his father knew about all those stuff and what was “deuterium” in the first place. With gasping breath, and with gleaming pride for that matter, Michael told me as a matter of fact that his father was a war veteran and because of this, he had American contacts in the CIA. The CIA thing sounded preposterous to me at that time but when I recently read some articles in the Internet about deuterium, I started to wonder if the CIA talk of Michael was plausible after all and that maybe the CIA was behind the sudden departure of Michael’s whole family to Los Angeles later that year, where in a year’s time he was already driving a very exotic looking red corvette (might be from second hand store) as evidenced by a picture that he had sent to the neighborhood kids through a very kind uncle. This story may start to sound like a brimming Tom Clancy thriller but before anything gets out of hand, that CIA talk of Michael is just that and nothing else t o it I am pretty sure on that and their immigration to America was due mainly to his father being a USAFFE during World War II. But Michael’s rambling on deuterium was completely a different matter---it sounded to me then so awfully good that I had wished it to be true already even though it wasn’t true at all at that time, and even now.

There is really something to this issue on deuterium that lingers long and never goes away completely. It had been virtually popping and bobbing up in the local media every now and then---especially in the last couple of decades. The Cebu-based news outfit The Freeman published the most recent news article on deuterium. In that article, Freeman publicized a certain study on deuterium by a Filipino scientist working in a Canadian agency. Canada by the way is the world’s leading producer and consumer of deuterium as an energy source. There had been many rumors and hush-hush talks before about certain groups of foreigners, possibly American and sometimes German, that were in the country to initiate drilling projects that should siphon-off the coveted deuterium from the Philippine seas. All those talks just died down however and nobody really minded them, perhaps everyone just disregarded some weird-sounding element that are supposedly found in the Philippines in great volume. In fact, even as we speak now, I would not be surprised if Exxon or Shell has some of its people working night and day trying to unravel the key to gathering the millions of barrels of “white gold” underneath our seas.

I was watching Sentro last night, the upstart news program from ABC 5, and heard Ms. Ali Sotto do some lighter take on the news as she reported how hydrogen-fuelled cars were already running in the streets of Washington D.C.. This particular news segment was apparently so short that I had to scour the Internet for a more elaborate rendering of the news item. I read a couple of related news articles from not-too-famous news sites on the net.

It was reported that the United States Government, through the Department of Energy and General Motors had unveiled an $88 Million joint project in order to put a fleet of hydrogen-fuelled cars on the streets of Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles within a year’s time. The fleet would consist merely of 40 of such cars but most of the money would be spent on putting up a number of hydrogen refueling stations all over the streets of those pilot cities since the main cause why consumers are not buying too many hydrogen-fuelled cars these days is basically due to the lack of gas stations peddling or selling hydrogen gas or liquid hydrogen. Come to think of it, even if any of us had all the money to buy this car stuff right now, like for example if some of us are sons and daughters of Taipans with money to burn, we wouldn’t be able to use them anyway, at least not for long, unless we all fly all the way to America to buy gallons and gallons of hydrogen fuel.

But again come to think about the possibilities. If only there were enough hydrogen-refueling stations all over our city streets, our days of being dependent on crude oil (freshly-drilled from the dusty sands of Sahara) would soon be over and our atmosphere would be a lot more livable since the only end product of hydrogen fuels is water. Water, instead of carbon dioxides that make our urban landscape looked orange or yellow at dusk.

I really hope that this project of GM and the United States Government would entirely succeed for reasons that we all should know by now.

And so this bit of news on hydrogen-fuelled cars reminded me of the high school talk I had with an old friend from the neighborhood concerning deuterium. What is deuterium and how does it become an energy source? Deuterium is the end product when a common tap water (H2O) is subjected to enormous pressurize of gigantic proportion that the oxygen element in the H2O compound is forced out of the combination, making the hydrogen element to purify and consolidated all the more. Since in deuterium, the hydrogen becomes so solid and unadulterated, hydrogen gas can be easily obtained from it since a natural electrolysis happens immediately the moment deuterium is exposed to room temperature. Meaning to say, when deuterium is used as a base in obtaining hydrogen gas, the generation process is much less expensive. Right now, hydrogen gas and liquid hydrogen that are often used to power jets and giant trucks, are sold at very steep prices (much more expensive than gasoline) because it is so costly to produce them, necessitating an energy-consuming and lengthy electrolysis process that are undertaken in order to separate the hydrogen compound from common water. When deuterium is used, the very expensive process of electrolysis would be bypassed and set aside in the production of hydrogen gas and therefore, obtaining hydrogen fuel becomes more efficient and less expensive by a mile.

The Philippines is identified to hold the greatest amount of deuterium deposit, somewhere in the area known as Mindanao Trench, the part of the Pacific Ocean just off the shores of Surigao. Deuterium is most prevalent in an area more widely known in the whole world as The Philipppine Deep. In the Freeman news article (dated August 2004), Dr. Anthony B. Halog, the Filipino scientist working at the Sustainable Technology Office of the Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, and the National Research Council of Canada described the Philippine deuterium wealth in this manner:

"A big deposit of 868 miles long, 52 miles at widest point, and 3 miles at deepest point, replenished by nature 24 hours a day after deuterium travels more than 12,000 kilometers from Central America to the Philippines through the span of the Pacific Ocean when Planet Earth turns on its axis from West to East in unending perpetual motion."

And it’s potential in this breathe:

"At 12 million barrels per day capacity priced at US$7.00 per barrel, this is US$84 million per day or US$30.66 billion per year, enough to wipe out all existing foreign debts of the Government in one year, revenue-wise in foreign exchange.

Public works, private construction, economic and financial booms are expected to happen in the Philippines in the same manner as those which happened in the Middle East and financial centers of the world from 1974 to 1984, with everybody earning their respective comfortable livelihood, while pricing basic prime necessities at reasonable and affordable levels."

At present, deuterium seems to be produce exclusively through an expensive synthesizing process, by subjecting ordinary tap water to enormous pressure using some highly-advanced machinery or equipment and thus the price of hydrogen fuel remain relatively out of reach from the ordinary consumers of fuels. But if the deuterium deposit under the Philippine seas can be obtained, hydrogen gas prices could become far more reasonable and affordable. If natural deuterium is utilized as the base in the production of hydrogen fuel---in both its most widely used form as hydrogen gas and liquid hydrogen---the generation process would become more efficient and much cheaper. And mind you, deuterium as a source of energy is not only useful to power cars, trucks and planes. It is also being utilized to power factories and power plants in the same manner that nuclear power plants are operated. With deuterium as moderator, nuclear power plants could do away with enriched uranium as a main fuel source and this means, deuterium use could generate a whole new specie of power plants that are a lot safer---safer by a grand mile.

The problem faced by those who wants to extract natural deuterium from the Philippines seas is probably the enormous pressure that is existing in the very area where deuterium are supposed to be found. To reach the area of deuterium concentration, a drilling system should reach a level of at least 30,000 feet deep into the ocean, where the water pressure could reach as high as 10,000 psi, or the equivalent of 10,000 tons of load pressuring from all direction. Apparently, there is no material known today that could withstand such enormous amount of pressure. Maybe diamonds could be strong enough to endure the extraordinary pressure down there but imagine how much diamonds should be needed in order to manufacture a very long tube. That’ll be unimaginable in both cost and expanse. But scientists nowadays always finds a way and when the time comes that a kind of metal could actually be developed, one that could reach ten thousand meters underwater without breaking apart and efficiently drill out barrels and barrels of sea water that contains deuterium, then that’ll be the time the Philippines could become the main hawker of fuels for the world’s cars, airplanes, buses, factories, power plants and whatever that runs and hums not by its own accord.

So deuterium may be the gasoline of the future, the main energy source of the next millennium, and the Philippines is the only country that has them naturally tucked under its seabed in an amount and breathe that replenishes on its own every time the Earth rotates and the sea shifts from side to side.
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