Science: Geothermal D2O

The New Zealand government announced last week that the enormous jets of steam that roar out of the ground in the Wairakei district on North Island will be harnessed for a dual purpose. They will generate electricity, and also produce heavy water (deuterium oxide) for use as a moderator in the nuclear power reactors that Britain plans to start building soon (TIME, Feb. 28).

Deuterium (heavy hydrogen) is present in all water to the amount of 0.02%, and it can be separated with considerable difficulty by several processes, including fractional distillation. The geothermal plant, financed jointly by Britain and New Zealand, will...

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