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  • Helium 3 - Future Fuel?

    A snippet from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/226053.stm

    Even though helium-3 is more abundant on the Moon than on the Earth, it is still very rare amounting to only 4 or 5 parts per billion in the lunar soil. To extract one tonne of helium-3, it is estimated that 200 million tonnes of lunar soil would have to be processed. That is equivalent to mining the top 2 metres of a region 10 kms square. Some scientists believe that in the future it could be worth it. It would only require 25 tonnes of helium-3 to provide all the power that the United States needs in a year. Energy calculations suggest that the energy gained from Helium-3 mined on the Moon and shipped back to Earth would be 250 times that used to obtain it.

    Also a snippet from http://www.space.com/scienceastronom...m3_000630.html

    Researchers and space enthusiasts see helium 3 as the perfect fuel source: extremely potent, nonpolluting, with virtually no radioactive by-product. Proponents claim its the fuel of the 21st century. The trouble is, hardly any of it is found on Earth. But there is plenty of it on the moon. Society is straining to keep pace with energy demands, expected to increase eightfold by 2050 as the world population swells toward 12 billion. The moon just may be the answer. "Helium 3 fusion energy may be the key to future space exploration and settlement," said Gerald Kulcinski, Director of the Fusion Technology Institute (FTI) at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Scientists estimate there are about 1 million tons of helium 3 on the moon, enough to power the world for thousands of years. The equivalent of a single space shuttle load or roughly 25 tons could supply the entire United States' energy needs for a year, according to Apollo17 astronaut and FTI researcher Harrison Schmitt.


    Moon mining very shortly? Whoever controls the moon controls a substantial energy source. Whoever controls energy has power (both figuratively and literally).
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  • #2
    Exploitation of Natural Resources in Space
    Commercial Activities on Celestial Bodies
    Space Law Principles
    The Moon Agreement


    Introduction

    The current body of space law does not adequately provide a clear and secure legal environment for commercial space activities. There are proposals for the commercial development of lunar and asteroid mineral resources for which legal uncertainty, rather than technological capability, is the predominant obstacle to their realisation. The 1979 Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the Moon Agreement), in particular, with its ambiguities and inadequacies, stands as a significant obstacle to the commercial development of lunar and asteroid mineral resources.

    There is probably no venture in space more exciting and commercially attractive than the mining of mineral resources and human settlement on the Moon and other celestial bodies, such as near-Earth asteroids. The prospect of generating electricity from space is no longer a fictional fantasy. It is generally believed that any large-scale human operation in space would be more cost-effective if the Moon is utilised, both as a launching base and as a source of minerals and fuels. These will remain dreams and fantasies unless the current international legal régime governing activities in space is improved to facilitate these ventures.

    [...]

    The Moon Agreement essentially reaffirms the existing body of space law, especially the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The Moon Agreement provides that:

    International law extends to govern activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies;
    1. International law extends to govern activities on the Moon and other celestial bodies;
    2. The Moon and other celestial bodies are not to be subject to national appropriation by a claim of sovereignty;
    3. Celestial bodies are to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
    4. There shall be freedom of access to the Moon for scientific purposes; and
    5. Activities disrupting the lunar environment are prohibited.


    Unlike the other space law treaties, the Moon Agreement imposes specific obligations on parties undertaking the exploration and exploitation of celestial body resources. For example, the use of celestial bodies "shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, irrespective of the degree of economic or scientific development" and "due regard shall be paid to the interest of present and future generations as well as to the need to promote higher standards of living".

    [...]

    LINK


    Looks like the Moon is off limits.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by The Doctor View Post
      [/URL]

      Looks like the Moon is off limits.
      Not for the USA, Russia or China who haven't signed the treaty .
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        Not for the USA, Russia or China who haven't signed the treaty .
        That's funny! The only nations with the means to go exploit the Moon didn't sign on to the Moon Agreement... But the USA, PRC and Russia did sign on to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967...
        Article I

        The exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind...

        [...]

        Article II

        Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to
        national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, orby any other means...

        [...]

        LINK
        Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

        Comment


        • #5
          What would be the cost of shipping the mining equipment all the way to the moon?

          Add to that the cost of the transfer of the workforce and their accommodation and support.

          THEN, the cost of shipping back the stuff.

          Back in '69, they left US$5000 Hasselblads on the surface because they were too expensive to bring back. They only bought the film cassettes.

          How many people would you need to mine and process FIVE BILLION tons of soil a year?

          My BS Detector (Economics Setting) is going mad.


          John.
          The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

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          • #6
            Helium 2 and Helium 3 are the raw ingredients needed for hydrogen fusion power production. Currently, those isotopes can be found in sea water. The fusion reactor promises to produce large quantities of pollution and radioactive waste free energy. So far, the problem is trying to build a container that can contain the extreme temperatures and pressure needed for continuous controlled fusion to take place.

            Any mining of Helium 3 on the moon would be for the purpose of energy generation there. That energy could then be beamed back to Earth through a microwave transmission system. That is far cheaper then ferrying it back to Earth.

            More important is finding a sizable quantity of water that can then be converted into rocket fuel to power deep space exploration as well as supporting self sustainable colonies there. Water ice has been found buried in craters at the lunar poles.

            To cut the cost of ferrying the amounts of materials needed to the Moon for a sustainable colony, a Space Elevator will need to be constructed.
            http://www.spaceelevator.com/

            All of this is a long way off in the future.
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            • #7
              It is highly doubtful that Helium-3 will be a viable, cost effectvie "fuel" anytime in the next century or more.

              "Moon mining" sounds nice on television, but is currently technically impractical, as is transporting the fuel back to Earth and utilizing it. Plain old hydrogen is much more common, much more easily obtainable and a whole lot more practical at our current technological state.

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