• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Helium-3 Snake Oil?

Triton

Donald McKelvy
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
9,719
Reaction score
501
Website
deeptowild.blogspot.com
I have been reading the last couple of years that there is a new moon race to establish permanent bases on the moon to mine the satellite for Helium-3 as fuel for nuclear fusion powerplants. China, Russia, Japan, India, European Union, and the United States plan to establish permanent bases on the moon for national prestige and exploitation of the Moon's natural resources.

I have read that Nuclear Fusion reactors are at least fifty years away. I have read that a 25-ton load of He3 could satisfy the energy needs of the United States for one year and would be worth on the order of $75 billion today, or $3 billion per ton. But over 100 million tons of regolith need to be mined to obtain one ton of helium 3.

http://www.asi.org/adb/02/09/he3-intro.html
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/12/does-chinas-hav.html
http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/12/18/fs.moonmining/index.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9NO84uvrg8

Is mining the moon for Helium 3 a viable proposition? Or would the space transportation infrastructure costing in the billions that would have to be built make it a zero sum game? Then nuclear fusion power plants need to be built to take advantage of Helium 3 fuel. Are space enthusiasts selling snake oil to generate interest for expensive manned spaceflights to the moon and moon bases? Thoughts?

Since China, Japan, and India are not signatories to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and no nation has ratified the Moon Treaty of 1979, will there be a lunar land grab?
 

Orionblamblam

ACCESS: Above Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
7,905
Reaction score
1,137
Website
www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
Triton said:
I have read that Nuclear Fusion reactors are at least fifty years away.

No, they're a *decade* away. And have been for fifty years.

Is mining the moon for Helium 3 a viable proposition?

If the fusion reactors that can make use of it are viable, then, yes. Thing is, nobody can build the reactors until they get the He3. And nobody is going to build lunar mining operations until the technology has been proven. Circular.

Or would the space transportation infrastructure costing in the billions that would have to be built make it a zero sum game?

The infrastructure needed would not cost billions... it'd cost dozens to hundreds of billions. But once in place, it could in principle last virtually forever.

Since China, Japan, and India are not signatories to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 and no nation has ratified the Moon Treaty of 1979, will there be a lunar land grab?

I certainly hope so.
 

Michel Van

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,644
Reaction score
657
we talk here about $500 Bilion bill!

-Development of Very heavy rocket
not a rebuild Saturn V or "NASA try to salvage the Shuttle" Ares
i mean big one like 500 tons cargo like ROMBUS ( ideal to bring cargo back to Earth)
alone the ROMBUS R&D cost $100 billion

-the we need Ionengine tug how move the heavy cargo to Moon orbit ( a year trip)
-a Heavy reusable Lunar Lander for over 100 tons to lunarsurface and back
-oxygen Factory on Moon to Fuel Lander, Rover, Trucks, lifesuportsystem
-a manned Moonbase because you need someone how fix broken Maschine
-that need Manned Lunar ferry, lander, Rover new spacesuits etc
-Nuclear Reactor for Ion tug, Base, Factory
-and of curse the Excavators and He3 Refining plant

all this stuff is not cheap and operating costs gona be high

Alternative
Yes for Project Daedalus the British Interplanetary Society
proposed HE3 mining in Atomsphere of Planet Jupiter or Saturn

Gigantic nuclear heated balloons with Automatic He3 refining plant
supply by Nuclear Ramjet shuttle (SSTO)

is there is Life in Atmosphere of those planets, then Gesundheit !

the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 ?
how cares, first there get all, second has to pay for it !
that's the spirit of 21 century B)
 

bobbymike

ACCESS: USAP
Joined
Apr 21, 2009
Messages
10,285
Reaction score
1,238
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a27961/mit-nuclear-fusion-experiment-increases-efficiency/
 
Top