Energy Resources of the Planet and Geopolitics

Last Updated: Friday, 06 March 2015 07:53

(Where geopolitics are mistaken in their predictions)

V. Larin, N. Larin, V. Larin (Jr.)

They say somewhere in the mid-19-th century, the chief of the United States Patent Office was a highly respected gentleman. Suddenly he handed in his resignation. It must be said that he organized the work of the Patent Office excellently, and this decision seemed strange to everyone. The governing body asked for an explanation and received a categorical response: “The steam locomotive is already invented, so there's no point in future existence of the Patent Office, since there is nothing more to invent.“
I'm not sure whether it really happened. Maybe it's just one of those anecdotes which emphasize our superiority over the past, and our condescending laugh implies that we are, of course, more sagacious in our prognoses. However, I have good reasons to doubt this perspicacity.

Experts have carefully sifted through all possible sources of energy, and came to the conclusion that oil, gas, coal and uranium will remain the main sources of energy for decades to come. On this basis political scientists and futurologists make their prognoses. And all of these forecasts are quite gloomy for the human community because of the imminent exhaustion of hydrocarbons and the spreading of the atomic power usage worldwide. In our unstable and discrepant world this may provoke "oil wars" and the expansion of the “nuclear club”.

Could these forecasts be that unambiguous?

"Oh, folks – everything is not in its right place.
Everything is not in its right place, folks! "
(From a song by Vladimir Vysotsky)

One may agree with experts that the development of thermonuclear and sun energy is delayed for 30-35 years for technical reasons. Therefore, there is no doubt that our near future is conditional on fossil energy resources. And it's absolutely true. But when energy experts categorically state that the Earth has nothing to give us except for coal, oil, gas and uranium, they proceed from the fact that our planet is thoroughly investigated and that it is impossible to find anything fundamentally new. Nevertheless, things are quite different. Energy experts ought to know that the prevailing views of the geologists on our planet’s interior is nothing more than a field of hypothetical speculations.
Competent geologists with wide practical experience may argue that they don’t care about the "high theory", but the surface of Earth and the accessible depths are studied well enough. And therefore one should not expect anything fundamentally new especially in the sphere of energy resources. Below there is a concrete example based on previously unknown facts proving that such a viewpoint is unacceptable. But at first let's discuss what we really know about the depths of our planet.

«Terra Incognita»

When you ask geologists: "What is the Earth’s structure like?" they patter the habitual answer: “The Earth has an iron core and a silicate mantle”. When you ask to prove it you face irritation "Stop bothering ... Why do you ask about the generally known facts?" If you ask for patience and inquire about the evidence base, they start mentioning some meteorites, and then (with obvious relief) plead it is the question of cosmogony and everything is proven by experts. There are plenty of incompatible or contradictory concepts in cosmogony, and nothing is proven. One may be surprised by this situation. But what is truly shocking - all concepts claim the same thing: the Earth has an iron core and a silicate mantle.
The reason why concepts which differ greatly all claim the core to be made of iron is that when the cosmogonists started to solve the problem of the Earth’s origin (in 1950-ies) the concept of an iron core and silicate mantle was already established as a dogma in the minds of most specialists in Earth sciences. Astrophysics accepted as truth that "Main dogma" of the Earth sciences. And for some reason none of them hesitated whether it was true. That’s hard to believe. These brilliant minds (I mean astrophysics) accepted as gospel such a speculative version with no evidence base, though physicist Louis de Broglie, the founder of quantum mechanics, had repeatedly warned about ”the necessity to periodically study thoroughly the propositions that have become accepted without discussions.”

About the history of the "Main dogma"

In the mid-19th century mathematicians and astronomers had already ascertained that in agreement with the moment of inertia of the Earth, our planet must have a considerable increase in density near the center. However, they could not know whether the increase was gradual, or there was a large and dense core. In the early 20th century seismology appeared and quite soon there was a network of stations developed enough to estimate the zone of the core’s “seismic shadow”. Thus, the existence of the core was ascertained.

A young science made a great discovery. It coincided in time with the rapid development of metallurgy and blast furnace. Iron was needed to construct the battleships and luxurious liners and to build railways. Blast furnace process was then considered to be the peak of technical progress. "The age of iron and steam" reached its apogee. Many people were eager to see the work of the blast furnace. It was impressive and inspiring. The charming melody of "Bolero" was composed by Ravel while he watched the casting of steel.
Iron is the only widespread in nature heavy element. Due to this fact such an assumption occurred - the Earth's core is, of course, made of iron. The Earth was formed of space dust, heated up to the melting point, the iron melted and gathered in the center of the planet, and silicates (similarly to slag in the blast furnace) emerged and formed the crust and the mantle. 
Moreover, there were iron meteorites and stony (silicate) meteorites, which had already been recognized as planetary matter of the solar system. There were no other samples of this substance, so scientists gratefully accepted this “gift of heaven”. To tell the truth it wasn’t accepted immediately, as in 19th century the French Academy still denied the "stones falling from the sky", as there couldn’t be any solid rocks in heaven (this reflected the struggle of French encyclopedists with the dominance of clergy in the understanding of the universe).
In the early 20th century when they finally understood that it really was the planetary matter, meteorites began to be treated as "a gift from above". And it was probably “sent to us” in order to help us to understand the structure of our own planet. Their eyes were shot to many facts about meteorites: for example, the fact that they come from the asteroid belt which is far beyond Mars, near the gas giants; and that they represent only a small part (less than 0.1 %) of the total mass of meteoritic matter, which burns down in the Earth's atmosphere; and much more. Therefore, meteorites were regarded as a proof of the new Earth’s model - a great blast furnace.
Even Victor Goldschmidt (one of the founders of geochemistry) supposed that the Earth's division into geospheres was a result of melting of rocks (similarly to the process of smelting of cast iron in the blast furnace), and that there is an iron-nickel alloy in the center of the Earth, similar to the one in meteorites.
Much later (in the 1960-ies) with the help of shock compression method it was discovered that iron’s density in megabar pressures was much higher than the density of the Earth's core. Then the supporters of the iron core hypothesis suggested an admixture of lighter elements (carbon, sulfur, oxygen, and even potassium). This admixture had to account for 20-25%. However, there are no examples of such admixtures in the composition of iron meteorites, and so the question arises: does the structure of meteorites have any connection with the Earth’s structure at all? So what do we have in the end? - A model of the Earth as a giant blast furnace! Don’t you think that this speculative analogy is unfounded?
There is a kind of myth among geologists that geophysics answered all questions about the internal structure of our planet long ago. We get the information about the inner zones of the Earth with the help of seismic methods. But they give us information only about the speed of seismic waves. It seems that everybody forgot about the fact that the speed of sound may be the same in media of completely different composition. Fred Hoyle, a famous astrophysicist and Nobel laureate, mocked at it once. He saw the results of measurement of sound velocity in the lunar regolith (the dust and gruss on the lunar surface). The velocity in the Swiss cheese was exactly the same. Hoyle published the matching data in one of the leading scientific journals and wrote a short poem which may be briefly retold as follows:
"It turned out that the Moon
Is made of Swiss cheese? "
Yet by the early 50-ies “the iron core and the silicate mantle” turned into the “Main Dogma” of the Earth sciences, and not because of the evidence base, but simply because it became a stereotype.
At the same time (early 1950-ies) the breakthrough in the understanding of thermonuclear reactions resulted in the explosions of the first hydrogen bombs. Finally, it was clearly shown why the stars shine. And physics, inspired by their success, decided to find out, once and for all, what was the origin of the Earth. Unfortunately they considered the version of "the iron core and the silicate mantle" to be the "finishing point" (the ultimate goal) so they explained to us how such a planet could be formed.
Now there is nobody to ask why they did so. After all, even schoolchildren when solving a problem by fudging the known solution, first of all make sure that they peeped at the correct solution. However, cosmogonists didn’t bother to verify the “Main Dogma”. If they paid attention it would be obvious that the “Main Dogma” is an empirically unfounded speculative analogy with the blast furnace. So they made up not a coherent theory but a sort of “mosaic” with “holes” of lack of evidence.

A few words about the "holes of lack of evidence"

The problem of “transfer moment”
In celestial mechanics a physical quantity mvr, the so-called angular momentum, is widely used.
In mechanics the product of mass and velocity "mv" is called “linear momentum”, and after multiplication by the arm "r"-"angular momentum ".
It is estimated that 98% of total quantity of the Solar System’s "mvr" is localized in the planets, which have a total mass equal to less than 1/700 of mass of the Sun. It is obvious that even during the protoplanetary stage practically all of the "momentum" was transferred from the center of the emerging system towards its periphery. Otherwise the formation of the planetary system would be impossible. I must say that this is a great problem of modern cosmogony. And if someone assures you that this problem is already solved, don’t believe it. Some cosmogonists agreed to leave this question as it is - it will be solved by itself in time: the planets exist and consequently the “transfer moment” occurred in some way.
All in all if you do not know where the "starting point" is, and have vague ideas about the "finishing point" it is hardly possible to find your way.

The hypothesis of the "Solar wind"
This hypothesis is to explain the differences between the compositions of terrestrial planets and hydrogen-helium giants. It is assumed that when the Sun lit up, the "solar wind" blew out hydrogen, helium and other light elements from the inner zone of the protoplanetary disk to the periphery. And due to this phenomenon there is a difference in composition of inner and outer planets. That is a bright idea, but it doesn’t withstand verification. The asteroid belt is 3 times farther from the Sun than the Earth. Accordingly, there must be more light elements. However, the content of gold and platinum is 100 times higher and the content of mercury is 1000 times higher in the composition of meteorites (which come from the asteroid belt) than in the composition of Earth. Are these elements light? Or, for example, the atom of Germanium is approximately 3 times heavier than the silicon atom. According to the hypothesis of "solar wind" the Ge/Si ratio on Earth must be greater than that of the asteroid belt. Actually the opposite is true; this ratio is greater in meteorites than on Earth. In addition, Germanium belongs to the geochemical class of "trace elements", and it doesn’t concentrate anywhere. Therefore, it can’t be collected in a “secret place” or hidden in the depths. It turns out that not the "solar wind" but a completely different process determined the compositions of planets.
The sudden condensation
According to the calculations of astrophysicists at the stage of separation of the protoplanetary disk the temperature of protosolar nebula exceeded several thousand degrees. The disk had to rapidly get cold (otherwise it would disperse). It is considered that this process caused condensation - the formation of solid particles from the gas phase. And further formation of the terrestrial planets is suggested to have been a process of gravitational compression of the solid particles and bodies, which allegedly could grow to the size of an asteroid. However, the simulation of this process with the help of modern computer technology reveals several deadlock problems.
For example, during the simulation we get a lot more planets than is needed. To get the real picture an "intervention of the creator" is necessary. Everything gets on its right place only if "germs" of planets that are hundreds of times greater than the other fragments are put into the orbits of the future Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury. However, during the process of rigorous modeling such "germs" don’t appear by themselves (least of all in the right places).
But the fundamental contradiction is in the following. According to the "Geochemistry of Isotopes" the formation of the solar system began with a powerful act of nucleosynthesis (the supernova explosion). As a result the protomatter of the solar system received an additional portion of elements from the entire periodical system. At the same time a lot of short-living radioactive isotopes with physical half-lives of about 105-106 years were formed. It means that at the stage of the protosolar nebula formation there was a strong source of ionization, and that the protoplanetary disk matter was in the plasma state.
Usually the term "plasma" is associated with temperatures of hundreds of thousands or millions of degrees. However, plasma can be cold, or as physicists say “non-isothermal”, with low ionic and high electronic temperatures. It is especially typical when ionization is caused by hard radiation: gamma rays, X-rays, hard UV and not by thermal heating.
Plasma state of matter excludes the possibility of sudden condensation. It can be assumed that the protoplanetary disk waited for millions of years until the source of ionization disappeared (short-living isotopes vanish) so that condensation could start, and then everything went on according to the same old pattern: solid particles and bodies gather forming planets and so on. However, this assumption contradicts the data of isotope geochemistry. Most likely, this “old pattern” has to be thrown away and something radically new has to be found.
We can go on naming such shortcomings for a very long time and in the end we must admit that there is no coherent and consistent theory about the Earth’s origin. Some astrophysicists even suppose that nature is too complex to be explained by contemporary science.
But how can we talk about the energy resources of the planet if its origin and the composition of its depths are unknown? We don’t know what lies in the inner zones and what may rise to the accessible horizons.
Next, let's talk about the previously unknown natural phenomenon which we discovered and which doesn’t exist according to the “Main Dogma”. This phenomenon completely changes the political scientists’ forecasts based on the forthcoming exhaustion of hydrocarbons.

The streams of deep hydrogen

We wrote about hydrogen degassing on the Russian platform in of the previous articles.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of hydrogen is its unique ability to diffuse in solids at a speed which is significantly (several times) higher than that of other gases. In this regard there is no reason to believe that the local anomalies are buried ones and have preserved from ancient geological times. We have probably discovered the outlets of modern hydrogen streams.
Hydrogen («hydrogen» - literally “giving birth to water”) is rather chemically active. There is quite a lot of free oxygen or weakly chemically bound in oxides and hydroxides of iron buried in the pores, cracks and micropores of the upper Earth crust layers. Making its way up to the surface the endogenous hydrogen stream certainly forms some water. And if the stream actually reaches the surface, you can be sure that it is much more powerful beneath; therefore we may assume that there are some endogenous processes going on and we, the ones who live on the surface, should take them into account.
And now let’s mention the fact that hydrocarbons primarily consist of hydrogen by the number of atoms. In the methane (CH4) one carbon atom corresponds to four hydrogen atoms. In oil derivatives the H / C ratio varies from 2 to 2.5. Thus, the “eternal geological problem” of the origin of oil and gas is reduced to the problem of the source of hydrogen.
If hydrogen streams rise from the bowels of the planet, then in the places where these streams reach carbon-rich strata hydrogenation reactions must occur, i.e. oil-bearing provinces and natural gas deposits should be formed. It may be carbon in any form - in the form of plant remains in sedimentary rocks, or in the form of graphite in metamorphic shales of the crystalline basements of platforms. So don’t be surprised if a deposit with a good flow rate is discovered in the areas with no «mother bed of oil». If there is a hydrogen stream - the main chemical element of oil and gas - the rest (the carbon, the block at the outlet) will work out somehow.
In our opinion, oil and gas are formed only when there is degassing of hydrogen from the bowels of the planet. And if hydrogen degassing goes on, then oil and gas must be generated right now, and will be generated tomorrow. Thus, the hydrocarbon resources most likely are renewed today. It is noteworthy that the Baku oil fields founded by Nobel brothers still give oil. It also happens that after the deposit is discovered, drilled, and all the estimated resources are exhausted, it continues to give oil. In this regard, wells should be removed when the deposit is exhausted, as it may be renewed in the near future. Starogroznenskoe oilfield in the North Caucasus was completely exhausted 15 years ago. The wells were removed and in 2006 an oil flow was found. Studies have shown that the field was completely renewed. Such phenomena are no longer exotic, but regular. Another example - the largest in Russia Romashkinskoye field in Tatarstan: 3 billion tones of oil have already been extracted so far, though at the time of its discovery 50 years ago, the resources were estimated at 700 million tons.
Thus, experts’ forecast about the complete exhaustion of oil and gas deposits by the 2030-ies seems to be a “bogeyman story”. In the light of hydrogen degassing of the Earth firstly, these resources are renewable, and secondly, there should be much more than estimated, so we will not face energy shortage in the near future.
Some countries, fearful of forecasts about the imminent exhaustion of hydrocarbon resources think it wise to preserve their deposits. However, in the light of hydrogen degassing in tectonically quiet regions such policy can be revised. Most likely, it would be prudent at least to use these deposits carefully, in order to see what happens next.

Hydrogen Energy

Nowadays the whole world dreams to switch hydrogen energy usage, to fuel transport with hydrogen which gives energy, clean water and nothing more. But nobody knows how to produce it in a cheap and clean way. According to the “Main Dogma of Geology” (the iron core and the silicate mantle) hydrogen has to be found only in the form of water. Following this dogma some enthusiasts suggest producing hydrogen by electrolysis of water. However, using hydrogen produced from water as an energy source, you get significantly less energy than was expended in the process of electrolysis.
Thus, in order to switch to hydrogen energy usage more coal and oil have to be burned; more uranium has to be split - and all this has to be done to maintain the current level of energy consumption. Of course, it will be much better in the places of hydrogen usage, but the ecology of planet as a whole will deteriorate faster. This is what energy experts consider to be an insurmountable problem. In addition, as an energy source hydrogen produced from water is much more expensive than fossil fuels. Of course, the fact deters those investors who don’t care about the problems of global ecology.
So, according to the “Main Dogma” hydrogen energy is an unrealizable dream. However, we discovered the outlets of hydrogen streams on the planet's surface. From the traditional point of view these hydrogen streams shouldn’t exist, but they do. Among them there are local (hundreds of meters) and regional (hundreds of kilometers). Such a regional anomaly covers the entire Moscow region. Within this anomaly the concentration of hydrogen in the subsoil air (close to the surface) is measured in hundreds or thousands of ppm. There are reasons to believe that at a depth of 1,5-2-2,5 km (in the crystalline basement of the platform) the regional anomaly assembles several powerful hydrogen streams. This allows producing hydrogen from wells. It holds great promise for the realization of hydrogen energy.
All of us have a habit of searching for things which are traditionally considered to be impossible. "The Main Dogma" which determines the so-called "common sense" of the majority of geology experts unequivocally states: the deep streams of hydrogen can’t exist in tectonically quiet areas. Though we purchased equipment and went to search for the outlets of hydrogen streams. And we found them at once. Now we know that this is a global scale phenomenon. Perhaps you want to know what made us act contrary to the "common sense". To satisfy your curiosity read the book "Our Earth" (V. Larin, 2005), which sets forth a radically new concept of the origin, structure and evolution of Earth and other terrestrial planets; several interesting consequences of this concept are also revealed there.