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Helium 3 and The Moon: an Energy-Filled Science Story

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The crust of the Moon contains nearly 1 million metric tons of Helium 3. This should be sufficient to provide electricity to the US for a thousand years. 

There is no doubt that our planet is in a huge energy crisis. It is clear that all primary sources of energy are dirty and almost exhausted, while the increasing power consumption is leading us towards a much hotter world.

Now, scientists are continuously looking for alternative energy sources, which will not pollute the atmosphere further. Some are even trying to find terrestrial elements, and even look to the Moon.

Tidal power plants are already relying on the moon energy, or to be more precise, on the moon’s gravitational pull. The plants trap water during the high tide and release it through turbines. The statistics show that one of the oldest power plants of this kind, which is still fully functional, is built in France in year 1966.

In Norway, a tidal turbine has been ‘under testing’ since 2003, powering 35 homes, while at the bottom of New York’s East River, we will soon be able to witness the completion of a similar project that should power thousands of homes.

But the possibilities of using the moon as a power source do not end here. In the mid-1980s, the Helium 3 (He3) approach to clean energy emerged. It is possible that it never gets realized, however the idea is fascinating.

The upper crust of the Moon contains nearly 1 million metric tons of Helium 3. This quantity, according to Energy Bulletin, should be sufficient to provide electricity to the whole of the US for more than a thousand years. The only requirement is a nuclear fusion, which will trigger the process.

And a mining project conducted on the Moon, but considering the emerging new technologies, there is really no reason to worry about this minor detail.
If this could get realized, the possibilities might just be endless. Unfortunately, fusion reactors are still not very viable, but they could be used to combine Helium 3 and produce Helium 4 (commonly found on Earth) and energized protons.

This process will be entirely clean, with no greenhouse emissions, and could potentially generate massive quantities of energy.

According to the article in the Energy Bulletin (and Artemis), the amount of produced protons by the fusion reactor with the available Helium 3, are likely to generate 10 times more power that all fossil fuels found on Earth all together.

Unfortunately, there are many challenges that should be dealt with, before a big He3-energy project takes place. The U.S. has given up on going back to the moon as of 2010, but even if they did, mining He3 requires heating of soil to extreme temperatures. In addition, a big enough fusion reactor is still quite far from being produced.

This, of course, does not reject the theory. It is still true that He3 can provide large amounts of very clean energy.

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