The End of an Age

Intro to Part-1: To open up the year 2012, the Editorial Board of Filipinos in New Zealand posts a fictional 4-part short story written by Karl Quirino. Each part of this story is spread out across sister websites as separate web pages starting first here in Filipinos in Hamilton, then onto the websites of Filipinos in Christchurch, Filipinos in Wellington and finally, Filipinos in Auckland. The story is about what would happen to the world if most (if not all) of the Filipinos working and living abroad were to return to the Philippines permanently for some good reason. It takes off from another much earlier post titled ‘Diaspora’ found on this website that touches on the subject of Filipino migrations to almost all parts of the world. The consequence of this phenom enon is called the ‘brain drain’. Part 1 of the story in question titled “The Day After-The End of An Age”, begins with a scenario about the rapid development of an untapped (but nevertheless real) treasure trove lying at the bottom of a deep sea trench just off the eastern seaboard of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. It is called deuterium – an isotope of hydrogen that scientists all over the world are saying could soon become the not-so-distant future’s fuel of the world.

 

THE END OF AN AGE

 

It happened on the same day the Mayan Long Calendar predicted the world would come to an end – 21st December 2012. On that day, an announcement was made by the President of the Philippines involving a major restructuring of the country’s economic focus and infrastructure.

 

He revealed that in just a matter of a few months, the Philippines would become the sole supplier of a new, clean and inexhaustible energy source revenues from which would, in little less than a decade, inexorably propel the country to become the richest country in the world. That wealth would be at a level beyond measure because the supply of the new energy resource he spoke of was the same stuff that makes it possible for stars to shine – nuclear fusion powered by concentrated ultra dense deuterium.

 

The Philippine Trench – also known as the Philippine Deep, Mindanao Trench, and Mindanao Deep, is a submarine trench which lies just east of the Philippines. On a north-to-south alignment it stretches to a length of approximately 1,320-km and a width of about 30-km from the centre of the Philippine island of Luzon. It trends southeast and tapers off in depth towards the northern tip of the Maluku island of Halmahera in Indonesia.

 

The trench is the deepest point in the country and 3rd in the world. For most of its length at a depth of up to three miles below sea surface, one of the world-largest deposits of deuterium (heavier hydrogen) is found waiting. What’s more the Trench, according to International Sea Law, lies within the 200-mile Eco nomic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, so the deuterium could be mined and produced exclusively.

 

THE LONG WAITING YEARS

 

Achieving nuclear fusion between deuterium nuclei using high-power lasers releases vast amounts of energy. The effort to create fuel using deuterium for fusion reactions had been quietly going on for years. Deuterium is the heavy form of hydrogen, readily found in water almost everywhere on the planet. It is not particularly in short supply and has been refined in earnest since the Second World War.

 

The nagging (and extremely expensive) problem refiners faced each time they extracted it was that only about 1 atom of it was present in 6,400 hydrogen atoms in ocean water. Ultra heavy deuterium sourced only from the Philippines, however, was a million times denser!

 

There was, however, a remarkable scientific breakthrough that occurred about the same period by a Filipino nuclear physicist Roberto del Mundo. Before that, achieving sustained fusion suitable for commercial use proved far more difficult than was initially anticipated. The view of most scientists before the President’s announcement was made was that commercial power production was considered unrealistic before 2050, with a prototype unlikely before 2030.

 

But in early-2009, more than 60-years after the first attempts, the conditions required to achieve controlled nuclear fusion were much better understood leading to more aggressively funded research and development. By mid-2010, del Mundo discovered and tested a new process that radically reduced the so-called ‘long waiting years’ down to just 12-months and more intensive research by his team promised to bring it down even further. That is exactly what hap pened.

 

Because this particular isotope of hydrogen can be used as a non-polluting source of fuel to produce clean energy plans were being developed by the Philippine government designed to rapidly upgrade, streamline and transform its economy in a revolutionary way while eventually slowing down the dele terious effects to the global natural environment of coal and oil-based carbon emissions worldwide.

 

Massive reforestation, for example, was also being planned to create carbon sequestration traps while allowing the continuous production of natural oxygen. The new forests across the archipelago would eventually halt land erosion, landslides and flash flooding. It would increase biodiversity and eventually restore the sublime climate the country enjoyed for centuries. Hydro power plants were also being planned to augment the production of energy across the country but also to create new watersheds to improve the environment.

 

With the technological and financial problems of extracting, processing and employing deuterium as a valuable energy-producing resource resolved, cons truction of new deuterium-based power producing plants were immediately being put on stream and most would be completed in just 18-months. The way was now wide open to make vast quantities of energy available in commercial quantities in the very near future.

 

A MILLION TIMES DENSER

 

Ultra dense deuterium from the Philippine Trench would be just the thing needed for laser-driven fusion to work and this technology had long been tested on frozen deuterium (known as “deuterium ice”) but is a million times denser.

 

The results of exhaustive tests made years before by del Mundo and others bore that the weight of Philippine-sourced ultra dense deuterium was spectacular – a 130-kg/cm3 that worked out to a quote made by the head of the research and testing team that it was “a material so heavy that a cube with sides of length of only just 10-cm would weigh 130 tons!”

 

At that scale of weight, however, it would be senseless to produce a 10-cm cube of the material for export to drive fusion-based reactors half-way around the world because transporting it from a processing plant to a seaport alone would be uneconomic. The Philippines would not export deuterium. It would instead supply power based on it.

 

Even so, at a hundred thousand times heavier than water and denser than the core of the sun, teams of scientists in Europe, the United States, Russia and China working with extremely minute samples of material provided by the Philippine Government said that it would unquestionably be used in an energy-producing process that is both more sustainable and less damaging to the global environment than coal, oil, gas and nuclear fission-based power generation cur rently in use.

 

From that point onwards, more fusion energy-producing plants in the Philip pines would be built in tandem with increased demand and exported using undersea cables. Their opposite ends would be anchored at strategic points in some countries in Asia and Oceania like China, Japan, Thailand and Australia.

 

NEXT PART

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