PNOC exploring deuterium as potential power, fuel source


Government-owned Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) said it has begun looking into the possible development of fuel, electricity, or both from deuterium.

Deuterium is a hydrogen isotope with a nucleus made up of one proton and one neutron, which is twice the mass of an ordinary hydrogen’s nucleus. Also known as heavy hydrogen, deuterium is said to be naturally abundant in oceans.

Based on a BusinessWorld report, PNOC said that its study on deuterium’s feasibility as fuel is currently in the conceptual phase.

“The study is still ongoing thus it is early to provide findings at this time. Technologically speaking though, deuterium as fuel has not been widely researched and has only been used for nuclear fusion reactor prototypes. This fact has steered the feasibility study to center on using the more dominant hydrogen isotope, protium, which is found in regular water,” PNOC said in the government’s Freedom of Information website.

“[If] deuterium can be used as fuel, it has to be separated first from the water as deuterium oxide which adds another process in contrast with protium as regular water,” PNOC added.The Department of Energy, the agency to which PNOC is attached, has been active in exploring hydrogen as an alternative energy source with Sec. Alfonso Cusi dubbing it as the “fuel of the future.” This year alone, it has signed agreements with Japanese and Australian firms for this purpose.