26. Helium-3

I am a big proponent of the use of clean energy such as solar, wind and many other energy sources spoken of on a daily basis in America today. I do realize that it will be some time before these sources of energy will become in a practical way the primary source of energy so needed in our nation to prosper. I think it is pure foolishness that for political and selfish reasons that we as a nation still depend upon carbon-based fuels that most scientists believe are used in a detrimental way such as coal, oil as well as natural gas. Global warming is a fact of science!

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Carbon-based energy sources are and will continue to damage our earth, creating strenuous levels of acids within our oceans, leading also to the rising of ocean levels and poisoning the earth’s land base as well as the space around it in an arduous manner. All this being true some good movement has been made as of late to shift our source of energy from carbon base sources to clean energy sources, to me, this is very gratifying, however, in the long run, it is not enough. Recent scientific findings will in the future be much more important. Helium-3 may be one of the answers and it is my belief that America is standing by watching nations such as China move forward on its possible use. For over 40 years, scientists have been working to create nuclear power from nuclear fusion rather than nuclear fission.

Nuclear fusion effectively makes use of the same energy source that fuels the Sun and other stars and does not produce the radioactivity and nuclear waste that is the by-product of fission type energies such as now used in atomic power plants.

China is taking lunar mining of helium-3 seriously while America is not. Helium-3 is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron. It is rare on Earth, and it is sought for use in nuclear fusion research. The abundance of helium-3 is thought to be greater on the Moon (embedded in the upper layer of regolith by the solar wind over billions of years. China’s plans to return to the moon the early 2020s. Filling one shuttle’s cargo bay with helium-3 could bring the equivalent energy of 1bn barrels of oil back to earth. China plans to build a mine on the Moon in order to harvest this rare helium isotope, Helium-3, that many scientists believe may be a key source of energy in the future. We have not taken this solution to solve the world’s energy problems as serious as China, although in the near past, we have on a private and public manner started to realize we had better do so. It has the potential to solve the world’s energy problems at a stroke.

Several governments besides China have subsequently signaled their intention to go to the Moon to mine helium-3 as a fuel supply. Helium-3 many scientists believe will interact with the containing electromagnetic field, resulting in the direct net electricity generation. Potential conversion efficiencies of 70% may be possible, as there is no need to convert proton energy to heat in order to drive a turbine-powered electrical generator it could become a safer and economical source of fuel.

Two fully-loaded Space Shuttle cargo bay’s worth – about 40 tons worth – could power the United States for a year at the current rate of energy consumption valued at up to £50,000 an ounce – compared with a gold price of £765 – it has the potential to solve the world’s energy problems. Since helium-3 it has been estimated, has a potential economic value of $3 billion (£1.78 billion) a ton, it is clearly an economically viable source of future energy to consider. If America does not, at least in a serious manner move forward in its thinking about more scientific energy sources such as the mining and use of helium-3 and perhaps cold fusion our nation in the future may find itself having to lower standard of living within its borders and even perhaps becoming a third world power.

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