Au Gold in Sea Water

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Stanley Meyer HHO

USP # 4,936,961
Method for the Production of a Fuel Gas
Stanley Meyer

Related Application: This is a continuation-in-part of my co-pending application Ser.; No. 081,859, filed 8/5/87, now U.S. Pat. No. 4,826, 581.
Field of Invention: This invention relates to a method of and apparatus for obtaining the release of a fuel gas mixture including hydrogen and oxygen from water. BACKGROUND OF THE PRIOR ART Numerous processes have been proposed for separating a water molecule into its elemental hydrogen and oxygen components. Electrolysis is one such process. Other processes are described in the United States patents such as 4,344,831; 4,184,931; 4,023,545; 3,980, 053; and Patent Cooperation Treaty application No. PCT/US80/1362, Published 30 April, 1981.
It is an object of the invention to provide a fuel cell and a process in which molecules of water are broken down into hydrogen and oxygen gases, and other formerly dissolved within the water is produced. As used herein the term "fuel cell" refers to a single unit of the invention comprising a water capacitor cell, as hereinafter explained, that produces the fuel gas in accordance with the method of the invention.
Brief Description of the Drawings

FIG. 1 illustrates a circuit useful in the process.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective of a "water capacitor" element used in the fuel cell circuit.

FIGS. 3A through 3F are illustrations depicting the theoretical bases for the phenomena encountered during operation of the invention herein.

Description of the Preferred Embodiment:

In brief, the invention is a method of obtaining the release of a gas mixture including hydrogen on oxygen and other dissolved gases formerly entrapped in water, from water consisting of:
(A) providing a capacitor, in which the water is included as a dielectric liquid between capacitor plates, in a resonant charging choke circuit that includes an inductance in series with the capacitor;
(B) subjecting the capacitor to a pulsating, unipolar electric voltage field in which the polarity does not pass beyond an arbitrary ground, whereby the water molecules within the capacitor are subjected to a charge of the same polarity and the water molecules are distended by their subjection to electrical polar forces;
(C) further subjecting in said capacitor to said pulsating electric field to achieve a pulse frequency such that the pulsating electric field induces a resonance within the water molecule;
(D) continuing the application of the pulsating frequency to the capacitor cell after resonance occurs so that the energy level within the molecule is increased in cascading incremental steps in proportion to the number of pulses;
(E) maintaining the charge of said capacitor during the application of the pulsing field, whereby the co-valent electrical bonding of the hydrogen and oxygen atoms within said molecules is destabilized such that the force of the electrical field applied, as the force is effective within the molecule, exceeds the bonding force of the molecule, and hydrogen and oxygen atoms are liberated from the molecule as elemental gases; and
(F) collecting said hydrogen and oxygen gases, and any other gases that were formerly dissolved within the water, and discharging the collected gases as a fuel gas mixture.
The process follows the sequence of steps shown in the following Table 1 in which water molecules are subjected to increasing electrical forces. In an ambient state, randomly oriented water molecules are aligned with respect to a molecule polar orientation.
They are next, themselves polarized and "elongated" by the application of an electrical potential to the extent that covalent bonding of the water molecule is so weakened that the atoms dissociate and the molecule breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen elemental components.
Engineering design parameters based on known theoretical principles of electrical circuits determine the incremental levels of electrical and wave energy input required to produce resonance in the system whereby the fuel gas comprised of a mixture of hydrogen, oxygen, and other gases such as air were formerly dissolved within the water, is produced.
Part 2
Process Steps:
The sequence of the relative state of the water molecule and/or hydrogen/oxygen/other atoms:
A. (ambient state) random
B. Alignment of polar fields
C. Polarization of molecule
D. Molecular elongation
E. Atom liberation by breakdown of covalent bond
F. Release of gases
In the process, the point of optimum gas release is reached at a circuit resonance. Water in the fuel cell is subjected to a pulsating, polar electric field produced by the electrical circuit whereby the water molecules are distended by reason of their subjection to electrical polar forces of the capacitor plates.
The polar pulsating frequency applied is such that the pulsating electric field induces a resonance in the molecule. A cascade effect occurs and the overall energy level of specific water molecules is increased in cascading, incremental steps.
The hydrogen and oxygen atomic gases, and other gas components formerly entrapped as dissolved gases in water, are released when the resonant energy exceeds the covalent bonding force of the water molecule. A preferred construction material for the capacitor plates is stainless steel T-304 which is non-chemical reactive with water, hydrogen, or oxygen.
An electrically conductive material which is inert in the fluid environment is a desirable material of construction for the electrical field plates of the "water capacitor" employed in the circuit.
Once triggered, the gas output is controllable by the attenuation of operational parameters. Thus, once the frequency of resonance is identified, by varying the applied pulse voltage to the water fuel cell assembly, gas output is varied.
By varying the pulse shape and/or amplitude or pulse train sequence of the initial pulsing wave source, final gas output is varied. Attenuation of the voltage field frequency in the form of OFF and ON pulses likewise affects output.
The overall apparatus thus includes an electrical circuit in which a water capacitor having a known dielectric property is an element. The fuel gases are obtained from the water by the disassociation of the water molecule. The water molecules are split into component atomic elements (hydrogen and oxygen gases) by a voltage stimulation process called the electrical polarization process which also releases dissolved gases entrapped in the water. From the outline of physical phenomena associated with the process described in Table 1, the theoretical basis of the invention considers the respective states of molecules and gases and ions derived from liquid water. Before voltage stimulation, water molecules are randomly dispersed throughout water in a container. When a unipolar voltage pulse train such as shown in FIGS. 3B through 3F is applied to positive and negative capacitor plates, an increasing voltage potential is induced in the molecules in a linear, step like charging effect. The electrical field of the particles within a volume of water including the electrical field plates increases from a low energy state to a high energy state successively is a step manner following each pulse-train as illustrated figuratively in the depictions of FIG. 3A through 3F. The increasing voltage potential is always positive in direct relationship to negative ground potential during each pulse. The voltage polarity on the plates which create the voltage fields remains constant although the voltage charge increases. Positive and negative voltage "zones" are thus formed simultaneously in the electrical field of the capacitor plates. In the first stage of the process described in Table 1, because the water molecule naturally exhibits opposite electrical fields in a relatively polar configuration (the two hydrogen atoms are positively electrically charged relative to the negative electrically charged oxygen atom), the voltage pulse causes initially randomly oriented water molecules in the liquid state to spin and orient themselves with reference to positive and negative poles of the voltage fields applied.
The positive electrically charged hydrogen atoms of said water molecule are attracted to a negative voltage field; while, at the same time, the negative electrically charged oxygen atoms of the same water molecule are attracted to a positive voltage field.
Even a slight potential difference applied to inert, conductive plates of a containment chamber which forms a capacitor will initiate polar atomic orientation within the water molecule based on polarity differences.
When the potential difference applied causes the orientated water molecules to align themselves between the conductive plates, pulsing causes the voltage field intensity to be increased in accordance with FIG. 3B. As further molecule alignment occurs, molecular movement is hindered.
Because the positively charged hydrogen atoms of said aligned molecules are attracted in a direction opposite to the negatively charged oxygen atoms, a polar charge alignment or distribution occurs within the molecules between said voltage zones, as shown in FIG. 3B. And as the energy level of the atoms subjected to resonant pulsing increases, the stationary water molecules become elongated as shown in FIGS. 3C and 3D. Electrically charged nuclei and electrons are attracted toward opposite electrically charged equilibrium of the water molecule.

04-05-2008, 09:54 AM
Newbie Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 19

Part 3
As the water molecule is further exposed to an increasing potential difference resulting from the step charging of the capacitor, the electrical force of attraction of the atoms within the molecule to the capacitor plates of the chamber also increase in strength. As a result, the covalent bonding between which form the molecule is weakened --- and ultimately terminated. The negatively charged electron is attracted toward the positively charged hydrogen atoms, while at the same time, the negatively charged oxygen atoms repel electrons.
In a more specific explanation of the "sub-atomic" action the occurs in the water fuel cell, it is known that natural water is a liquid which has a dielectric constant of 78.54 at 20 degrees C. and 1 atm pressure. [Handbook of Chemistry & Physics, 68th ed., CRC Press(Boca Raton, Florida (1987-88)), Section E-50. H20(water)].
When a volume of water is isolated and electrically conductive plates, that are chemically inert in water and are separated by a distance, are immersed in water, a capacitor is formed, having a capacitance determined by the surface area of the plates, the distance of their separation and the dielectric constant of water.
When water molecules are exposed to voltage at a restricted current, water takes on an electrical charge. By the laws of electrical attraction, molecules align according to positive and negative polarity fields of the molecule and the alignment field. The plates of the capacitor constitute such as alignment field when a voltage is applied.
When a charge is applied to a capacitor, the electrical charge of the capacitor equals the applied voltage charge; in a water capacitor, the dielectric property of water resists the flow of amps in the circuit, and the water molecule itself, because it has polarity fields formed by the relationship of hydrogen and oxygen in the covalent bond, and intrinsic dielectric property, becomes part of the electrical circuit, analogous to a "microcapacitor" within the capacitor defined by the plates.
In the Example of a fuel cell circuit of FIG. 1, a water capacitor is included. The step-up coil is formed on a conventional toroidal core formed of a compressed ferromagnetic powered material that will not itself become permanently magnetized, such as the trademarked "Ferramic 06# "Permag" powder as described in Siemens Ferrites Catalog, CG-2000-002-121, (Cleveland, Ohio) No. F626-1205". The core is 1.50 inch in diameter and 0.25 inch in thickness. A primary coil of 200 turns of 24 gauge copper wire is provided and coil of 600 turns of 36 gauge wire comprises the secondary winding.
In the circuit of FIG 1, the diode is a 1N1198 diode which acts as a blocking diode and an electric switch that allows voltage flow in one direction only. Thus, the capacitor is never subjected to a pulse of reverse polarity.
The primary coil of the toroid is subject to a 50% duty cycle pulse. The toroidal pulsing coil provides a voltage step-up from the pulse generator in excess of five times, although the relative amount of step-up is determined by preselected criteria for a particular application. As the stepped-up pulse enters first inductor (formed from 100 turns of 24 gauge wire 1 inch in diameter), an electromagnetic field is formed around the inductor, voltage is switched off when the pulse ends, and the field collapses and produces another pulse of the same polarity i.e., another positive pulse is formed where the 50% duty cycle was terminated. Thus, a double pulse frequency is produced; however, in pulse train of unipolar pulses, there is a brief time when pulses are not present.
By being so subjected to electrical pulses in the circuit of FIG. 1, water confined in the volume that includes the capacitor plates takes on an electrical charge that is increased by a step charging phenomenon occurring in the water capacitor. Voltage continually increases (to about 1000 volts and more) and the water molecules starts to elongate.
The pulse train is then switched off; the voltage across the water capacitor drops to the amount of the charge that the water molecules have taken on, i.e., voltage is maintained across the charged capacitor. The pulse train is the reapplied.
Because a voltage potential applied to a capacitor can perform work, the higher the voltage the higher the voltage potential, the more work is performed by a given capacitor. In an optimum capacitor that is wholly non-conductive, zero (0) current flow will occur across the capacitor.
Thus, in view of an idealized capacitor circuit, the object of the water capacitor circuit is to prevent electron flow through the circuit, i.e. such as occurs by electron flow or leakage through a resistive element that produces heat.
Electrical leakage in the water will occur, however, because of some residual conductivity and impurities or ions that may be otherwise present in the water. Thus, the water capacitor is preferably chemically inert. An electrolyte is not added to the water.
In the isolated water bath, the water molecule takes on charge, and the charge increases. The object of the process is to switch off the covalent bonding of the water molecule and interrupt the subatomic force, i.e. the electrical force or electromagnetic force, that binds the hydrogen and oxygen atoms to form a molecule so that the hydrogen and oxygen separate.
Because an electron will only occupy a certain electron shell (shells are well known) the voltage applied to the capacitor affects the electrical forces inherent in the covalent bond. As a result of the charge applied by the plates, the applied force becomes greater than the force of the covalent bonds between the atom of the water molecule; and the water molecule becomes elongated. When this happens, the time share ratio of the electron shells is modified.
In the process, electrons are extracted from the water bath; electrons are not consumed nor are electrons introduced into the water bath by the circuit as electrons are conventionally introduced in as electrolysis process. There may nevertheless occur a leakage current through the water.
Those hydrogen atoms missing electrons become neutralized; atoms are liberated from the water. The charged atoms and electrons are attracted to the opposite polarity voltage zones created between the capacitor plates. The electrons formerly shared by atoms in the water covalent bond are reallocated such that neutral elemental gases are liberated.
In the process, the electrical resonance may be reached at all levels of voltage potential. The overall circuit is characterized as a "resonant charging choke" circuit which is an inductor in series with a capacitor that produces a resonant circuit. [SAMS Modern Dictionary of Electronics, Rudolf Garff, copyright 1984, Howard W. Sams & Co. (Indianapolis, Ind.), page 859.]
Such a resonant charging choke is on each side of the capacitor. In the circuit, the diode acts as a switch that allows the magnetic field produced in the inductor to collapse, thereby doubling the pulse frequency and preventing the capacitor from discharging. In this manner a continuous voltage is produced across the capacitor plates in the water bath; and the capacitor does not discharge. The water molecules are thus subjected to a continuously charged field until the breakdown of the covalent bond occurs.
As noted initially, the capacitance depends on the dielectric properties of the water and the size and separation of the conductive elements forming the water capacitor.
In an example of the circuit of FIG. 1 (in which other circuit element specifications are provided above), two concentric cylinders 4 inches long formed the water capacitor of the fuel cell in the volume of water. The outside cylinder was 0.75 inch in outside diameter; the inner cylinder was 0.5 inch in outside diameter.
Spacing from the outside of the inner cylinder to the inner surface of the outside cylinder was 0.0625 inch. Resonance in the circuit was achieved at a 26 volt applied pulse to the primary coil of the toroid at 0 KHz, and the water molecules disassociated into elemental hydrogen and oxygen and the gas released from the fuel cell comprised a mixture of hydrogen, oxygen from the water molecule, and gases formerly dissolved in the water such as the atmospheric gases or oxygen, nitrogen, and argon.
In achieving resonance in any circuit, as the pulse frequency is adjusted, the flow of amps is minimized and the voltage is maximized to a peak. Calculation of the resonance frequency of an overall circuit is determined by known means; different cavities have a different frequency of resonance dependant on parameters of the water dielectric, plate size, configuration and distance, circuit inductors, and the like. Control of the production of fuel gas is determined by variation of the period of time between a train of pulses, pulse amplitude and capacitor plate size and configuration, with corresponding value adjustments to other circuit components.
The wiper arm on the second conductor tunes the circuit and accommodates to contaminants in water so that the charge is always applied to the capacitor. The voltage applied determines the rate of breakdown of the molecule into its atomic components. As water in the cell is consumed, it is replaced by any appropriate means or control system. Variations of the process and apparatus may be evident to those skilled in the art.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gold in Sea Water

Gold ores worldwide in 1974 averaged 0.15 ounces troy per ton. By 1986 that average had dropped to 0.05 ounces per ton. As the concentration of these minable continental ores continues to diminish, the seas have increasingly become the object of exploration and research into gold reserves. Significant quantities of gold have been mined from ocean beach placers, and mid-oceanic ridges have yielded rich gold ore samples, but the greatest accessible reserve is the ocean itself. Seawater contains vast quantities of dissolved gold, perhaps as much as 10 trillion dollars (US) worth, though in dilute concentrations. Recent evidence suggests that much of the earths continental gold deposits have biological origins. Certain bacteria are believed to have been involved in the precipitation of gold out of dilute hydrothermal solutions. A possible avenue for commercially viable gold recovery from seawater might involve such a bacterium, or a specifically engineered microbe.

Humankind seems spellbound when confronted with gold. It is a soft and ductile metal and probably had very little utility to the peoples of the ancient world, but it was prized and sought after none the less. What seems most remarkable is that gold's value has not suffered as the world's currencies of the twentieth century have gone on to other standards. Perhaps gold's most valuable quality then, is its beauty (Weast 1980). Though probably not the first metal to be gathered from the earth, evidence suggests that gold was first mined at least 6000 years ago. It has been a standard of barter and exchange for at least 4000 years. Nearly all of Earth's civilizations have prized it, and yet it is quite rare. Estimates of gold's abundance range from 3 to 6 ppb (parts per billion) in the Earth's crust (Simon 1973, Lucas 1985). That is equivalent to about 1 gram of gold in 275 tons of rock. Much of the gold that has been mined over the course of human history has come from rocks rich with veins of the metal, or panned from the alluvial beds of steams and rivers. As these easily accessible sources become increasingly rare, gold mining has shifted to bulk ores of lesser grades. About 60% of the world's known gold reserves are in the Republic of Sough Africa and the next largest reserves are in Russia (Minerals Yearbook 1985). As the gold of the Earth's continents continues to become more scarce, both dreamers and scientists have been exploring the seas for this noble metal.

Seawater contains gold in solution. The English chemist, S. Sonstadt, was the first to definitely establish its presence in 1872. Even today, though, precise measurements of its concentration are highly controversial. Owing to gold's extreme dilution, many factors confound its experimental measurement, such as the necessity for ultra pure reagents, gold's affinity for and absorption into the walls of the experimental glassware, and gold's tendency to precipitate out of solution during transportation or preservation (Burk 1989). Though some of the earlier investigations, prior to 1960, have yielded wildly varied values, as high as 4000 ppt (parts per trillion) (Putman 1953), subsequent efforts have been more consistent. When considering only the data gathered since 1980, reported values for the concentration of gold in seawater have ranged from 5 to 50 ppt (Lucas 1985), with the average concentration at about 13 ppt. Some of the highest concentrations recently reported have come from seawater samples taken from the Bering Sea at 50 ppt (Pashkova 1988).

Perhaps the higher concentrations of gold found in the Bering Sea can be attributed to the gold rich rivers of Alaska and Siberia that flow into the Bering Sea. Though the oceans of the Earth are mostly homogenous in the concentrations of dissolved minerals and trace elements, it is reasonable to believe that the effluence of gold-rich rivers may be at least partly responsible for the variability of concentrations. The gold concentration of some rivers has been measured in the low 1000's of ppt, and gold's actual solubility limit is about 4000 ppt at 23o C at a 1.8% concentration of chloride ions (Wood 1971). The reason why gold is found in such low concentrations relative to that of a saturated aqueous solution has to do with several natural processes, such as the action of biological scavengers which accumulate gold, the adsorption of gold on clay particles and sediments, and the adsorption of gold by high molecular weight organic matter present in seawater (Krauskopf 1956, Wood 1971, Burk 1989). This might also help explain the higher concentration of gold measured in the polar seas where the abundance of sedimentary deposits of microorganisms is less.

Seawater is not the only source of gold from the sea. As previously mentioned, the continental rivers can carry huge quantities of gold to the sea, and not all of it is dissolved or in colloidal solution. The erosive forces of wind, water, and ice can strip the continental rocks of its gold and carry it to the sea. The estuaries and ocean beaches near the mouths of these rivers can and have been commercially exploited. In the region of the Stuart Peninsula of Alaska, the Yukon, Kobuk, and Noatak Rivers pour into Norton and Kotzebue Sounds carrying their gold laden alluvial sands and gravels. By 1898, gold prospectors working the rich placer deposits of the Yukon River and its tributaries had arrived at Anvil Creek near Nome. The ocean beaches within a few miles of Nome yielded the most gold to have yet been mined from the sea. By 1904, nearly 250,000 ounces of gold had been panned and sluiced from the beaches. In October of 1904, two men working a rocker near the mouth of Little Creek recovered in seven hours more than 2,400 ounces of gold (MaClaren 1908, Brooks 1905). Gold is still being profitably mined and dredged from these beaches and more ancient beach gravels in the area of the Stuard Peninsula. Profitable gold beach placers are not limited to Alaska. For instance, the beaches near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz, California, were mined periodically during the 1930's when the Great Depression forced many out-of-work Americans into the gold fields of California. It was reported that two men working a sluice could recover an ounce of gold per day when the first miners arrived at the Santa Cruz beaches. Within a year or two the gold had been depleted sufficiently so that only after a large Winter storm, when much of the sands were stripped away revealing the richer sands closer to bedrock, were the beaches again profitable.

Some gold ores are associated the Phanerozoic ocean strata. These strata are believed to have been laid down on the ocean floors during periods of deep sea anoxia (Keith 1982, Spencer 1991). Most of these deposits are associated with the passive-margin environments of the lower Paleozoic and the upper Mesozoic eras. Since these strata and anoxia events are also associated with periods of high ocean levels, it is believed that oxygen the minimum zone, currently between at 500 to 1000 meters in depth, extended to the deep seafloors. It is believed that the increase in global temperatures and sea levels at these times interrupted the deep currents that carry the cold oxygen rich currents from the polar regions down to circulate around the ocean basins. The lack of oxygen in the deep ocean caused an enrichment of the sulfide elements and minerals associated with ocean volcanic activity (Spencer 1991).

Other areas of the oceans have recently been explored for the possibility of profitable gold ores. Much discussion and many proposals of late have focused on the mining of iron-manganese nodules of the deep sea floor sediments. Some of these have yielded gold concentrations in the range of 1 to 11ppm (parts per million) (Baturin 1988, Burk 1989). Such a concentration of gold is almost twice the average grade of ore mined from the Earth's continents in 1986 (Dworetzky 1988), and yet for these iron-manganese nodules, their gold content is a minor consideration given the much more valuable concentrations of manganese and selenium. However, owing to the cost of recovering and processing these nodules, no commercially viable mining operation is yet in operation, even though several such operations are planed and much research and even a few small scale tests have been conducted.

Gold ores have also been located along the mid-ocean ridges of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. One such deposit was found in association with the TAG hydrothermal field at 26o North latitude on the mid-Atlantic Ridge at the 3,670 meter water depth (Herzig 1991). The gold ores in these locations are associated with sulfide deposits formed by hydrothermal vents. These vents occur when the spreading seafloor allows water to percolate down in the crustal rocks and reach hot regions deep beneath the seafloor. The heated seawater dissolves mineral in much higher concentrations than can occur in cold water. From the spreading crustal plates the water dissolves various mineral and metals, such as sulfur, iron, copper, among others. Gold and silver are also dissolved but in very small concentrations. From samples of these hot solutions taken from the Sea Cliff hydrothermal field, on the northern Gorda Ridge, gold concentration ranges between 1 and 11ppb, and silver between 14 and 200 ppb (Zierenberg 1990). Temperatures of these solutions range from 100 to 350 deg C. Upon reaching the cold seafloor waters, much of the dissolved minerals and metals precipitate out of solution forming chimney-like vent structures. These chimneys build up and eventually fall over to form again. After enough time has passed, huge mounds of these structures form, being predominantly composed of iron and sulfide compounds. From the samples taken, gold concentrations ranged from 0.06 to 28.40 ppm. Similar, but ancient, sulfide deposits can be found in Australia, Cypress, and elsewhere. Many of these continental deposits have been commercially mined, but it was assumed that the recent oceanic deposits would not likely be of commercial grade because the evidence suggests that the continental deposits have gone through secondary concentration of the gold when ground water or surface weathering dissolves away much of the sulfide and iron matrix, leaving the deposits gold enriched (Herzig 1991). Though most of the mid-Atlantic Ridge sulfide deposits are of the lower grades that correlate to the virgin continental deposits, some, at least, appear to have undergone secondary concentration. It is theorized that this secondary concentration of gold occurs after the initial oxidation of the sulfide assemblages (0.8 to 5.5 ppm Au) and the percolation of the hydrothermal solutions redissolve and then redeposit the gold as pure native metal (at up to 23.0 ppm Au) (Herzig 1988). The discovery of this secondary concentration occurring at the bottom of the seas is important since geologists had previously assumed that sulfide gold ore deposits located on the continental plates would have had to have been exposed to weathering or ground water to be concentrated. It is now apparent that sulfide gold ore deposits may be found in previously unexplored regions. Much about the process of precipitation of gold and other metals from these solutions is unknown, however, it is believed that some sulfur-oxidizing bacteria of the genera Beggiatoa, Thiothrix or Thiovulum play an active role in this precipitation (Zierenberg 1990).

These chemosynthetic bacteria derive energy unlike their surface dwelling relatives (assuming that they are related). Instead of deriving energy from the oxidation of organic mater, or from photosyntheses, they oxidize sulfide compounds directly from the scorching hot hydrothermal liquids. How these bacteria can live and even thrive at 200o C is a matter of much discussion and investigation, but evidence suggest that these bacteria can efficiently remove gold, silver, copper, and other metals and minerals from dilute aqueous solutions. Proposed methods for this deposition vary. One such method involves the increase in pH in the micro-environment of the microbial mats that line these vent chimneys. These metals are less soluble at the higher pH's and precipitate out of solution and are then stored within the cell walls (Mullen 1989).

Other theories have been proposed regarding the role of gold precipitation from ore solutions by bacteria. Recent evidence suggests that most of the placer gold found in Alaska originated from bacterial scavenging. An analysis of the microstructure of Alaskan placer gold, and that of many of the epithermal deposits around the world, has revealed a fine structure of nearly pure gold microtubuals approximately 1 micrometer in diameter. It has been proposed that these hollow gold structures are the exact shape and size of the cellwall of bacterium genus Pedomicrobia (Watterson 1992). These bacteria are believed to derive energy from the precipitation of gold around themselves. A close examination of the microtubuals reveals branching structures of smaller diameters connected to the larger diameters. This observation is remarkable similar to the observed method of reproduction for Pedomicrobia. Instead of reproducing my fission, the splitting of the cell in two, these bacteria often reproduce by budding, a process remarkable similar in appearance to the gold microtubuals (Rennie 1992). The gold casings around the Pedomicrobia are extraordinary because of their high degree of purity, in excess of 98% gold (Pain 1988). It has been argued by these researchers that much of the Earth's placer gold deposits, have originated from similar biological processes with these or other bacteria. It is believed that the bacteria can concentrate the gold around themselves in such massive amounts because of an electrochemical reaction whereby the gold is gathered on pecifically adapted membrane receptors to which the bacteria discharges excess electrons from its biological processesthus precipitating the gold out of solution (Watterson 1992).

The possibility that certain bacteria can concentrate gold in amounts sufficient to comprise a major share of the Earth's gold ores suggest that with the right application, these or similar bacteria may be employed in the extraction of gold from low grade deposits or solutions. Already, there are commercial applications of bacteria in the mining of gold. Specifically, the bacteria Bacillus cereus is being used by the Canadian Genprobe Company to increase the yield of gold from pyrite ores (Anonymous 1989). In this case the bacteria are after the pyrite matrix that binds the gold and prevents economic recovery otherwise. Bacterial processing of these pyrite ores is relatively inexpensive and has increased yields from an average of about 65% to as much as 96% (Dworetzky 1988). Given the affinity that some bacteria have for the concentration of gold, the question arises as to whether it might be feasible to employ such a bacterium, or one specifically engineered for the task, to scavenge gold directly from the dilute concentrations present in sea water.

Even at the conservative estimates of 10 ppt of gold in seawater, there is a great deal of gold in solution in the oceans. Humankind has unearthed perhaps a total of 3.3 billion ounces of gold over the course of history, an amount equivalent To a cube of gold 55 feet on a side (Dworetzky 1988), but the sea water of the Earth's oceans contain about 25 billion ounces of gold (Burk 1989). If the ability of some of these bacteria to concentrate gold around their cell membranes to the degree that they form massively dense agglomerations of hollow gold microtubuals, as the evidence suggests, then perhaps a similar bacterium may find a practical application in sea water. It is believed that these bacteria concentrated gold from solution concentrations similar to that of sea water, though perhaps not similar with regard to other constituents. If such a bacterium could be identified and grown in sufficient amounts, it might then be fixed to substrates that could then either be moved through large volumes of sea water, or placed in stationary positions in areas of relatively swift currents. Once enough time had elapsed for these bacteria to gather sufficient amounts of gold, these substrates could then be gathered and processed to recover the gold. The problems in these approaches are not trivial, and the work and research needed for an evaluation of its practicality are not simple. I believe that such research might pursue exploring the precise biochemical and bioelectrical pathways for the deposition of gold in these naturally occurring bacteria. Perhaps with a sufficient understanding of these pathways, these gold scavenging abilities might be artificially promoted or enhanced sufficiently to achieve an economic recovery of gold from sea water.