China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon

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r's picture
r
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China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon

From the Daily Galaxy:

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2007/10/chinas-new-moon.html

Quote:

Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the first phase of lunar exploration, was quoted on government-sanctioned news site ChinaNews.com describing plans to collect three dimensional images of the Moon for future mining of Helium 3: "There are altogether 15 tons of helium-3 on Earth, while on the Moon, the total amount of Helium-3 can reach one to five million tons."

"Helium-3 is considered as a long-term, stable, safe, clean and cheap material for human beings to get nuclear energy through controllable nuclear fusion experiments," Ziyuan added. "If we human beings can finally use such energy material to generate electricity, then China might need 10 tons of helium-3 every year and in the world, about 100 tons of helium-3 will be needed every year."

Problem solved??

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Quercus bicolor
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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon

 Partly.

Try finding enough raw materials to make batteries to power all of those electric cars, lawn mowers, tractors, etc.

Try running tractor trailers, large ships, earth moving equipment, airplanes on electricity even if there was enough raw material for batteries. They would just be way too big.

The best lithium ion batteries have about 1/12 the energy per unit weight and 1/6 per unit volume (not counting the battery casing and electronics).  Airplanes would have to have a much shorter range in order for the batteries to be light enough for them to get off the ground.  With a cycle life of 1000 and commercial jets flying about 3x/day, they would need replacement every year and they are very expensive.

Similar but perhaps slightly lesser restrictions would apply heavy equipment, shipping and trucking.

We better come up with a lot better technology, because I'm sure there just ain't enough raw material out there to make all we would need.

Once again, a (very) partial replacement for fossil fuels.

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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon

And the minor point that fusion reactors to date have an ERoEI of less than 1................

 

Cheers Hamish

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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon
gyrogearloose wrote:

And the minor point that fusion reactors to date have an ERoEI of less than 1................

And if I remember correctly that is for the more conventional deuterium-tritium fusion reaction, and deuterium-helium3 fusion is even more difficult to achieve.  It's not impossible and there's a lot of potential (being it doesn't create secondary radiation in the reactor chamber structure), but sadly it's got a long way to go.   

I thought I heard that they had reached the breakeven point for ERoEI, or was it just that they were very close?  I can't remember for sure.

- Nickbert 

r's picture
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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon
steveyoung wrote:

 Partly.

Try finding enough raw materials to make batteries to power all of those electric cars, lawn mowers, tractors, etc.

Try running tractor trailers, large ships, earth moving equipment, airplanes on electricity even if there was enough raw material for batteries. They would just be way too big.

The best lithium ion batteries have about 1/12 the energy per unit weight and 1/6 per unit volume (not counting the battery casing and electronics).  Airplanes would have to have a much shorter range in order for the batteries to be light enough for them to get off the ground.  With a cycle life of 1000 and commercial jets flying about 3x/day, they would need replacement every year and they are very expensive.

Similar but perhaps slightly lesser restrictions would apply heavy equipment, shipping and trucking.

We better come up with a lot better technology, because I'm sure there just ain't enough raw material out there to make all we would need.

Once again, a (very) partial replacement for fossil fuels.

Ok except that large ships could be nudear powered.  But the interesting point about extraterrestrial mining are the resources that are there, for example within asteroids:

From BBC Sci/Tech

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/401227.stm

Quote:

n the 2,900 cubic kms of Eros, there is more aluminium, gold, silver, zinc and other base and precious metals than have ever been excavated in history or indeed, could ever be excavated from the upper layers of the Earth's crust.

I can't imagine we'll be mining  asteroids before the end of this century.  But I could be wrong, demand for these resources may speed things up.

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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon
redpoe wrote:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/401227.stm

Quote:

n the 2,900 cubic kms of Eros, there is more aluminium, gold, silver, zinc and other base and precious metals than have ever been excavated in history or indeed, could ever be excavated from the upper layers of the Earth's crust.

I can't imagine we'll be mining  asteroids before the end of this century.  But I could be wrong, demand for these resources may speed things up.

There's no technical reason humanity can't be mining asteroids in the next couple decades.  It's a big challenge to be sure, but doesn't require any large technological leaps to do so.... the biggest challenge is finding the political will and keeping a long-term focus.  But realistically the only way I see that happening in the next couple decades is if space exploration is pursued for its own sake.  Mining asteroids for resources to send down to earth probably wouldn't be cost effective for quite a while, but it's a whole different story with regards to supporting space-based industry and exploration.  Once the mining infrastructure is in place and costs go down (as mining processes become more efficient) we could stand to reap enormous benefit down on earth, but that would take some time.  Along with helium-3 fusion this is something I hope we push forward on for the sake of future generations.  Unfortunately it's too far off to help with our current energy and resource troubles, so for now the best we can do is husband our current resources carefully.  But if we want future generations to keep a good quality of life (which includes having an earth that doesn't end up being one big strip mine), space-based resource extraction and manufacturing will have to be present on some level.  Perhaps we'll be lucky enough that we'll soon see a renewed focus on such long-term projects and future planning on corporate, government, and local levels... there's nothing like a economic and energy crisis for a wake-up call! 

Well enough ranting from me... this just happens to be one issue that's close to home for me

- Nickbert

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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon

That doesn't include the energy required to go to the moon and back to the the Helium-3. Surprised

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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon

Maybe they could put some of the helium in balloons to help the rockets.Laughing

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Re: China's energy solution*s*: try thorium

 A "sputnik" moment ?

 http://energyfromthorium.com/2011/01/30/china-initiates-tmsr/

 So that's India and China both persuing Thorium as an energy source... maybe the west ought to redirect it's R&D into call centres and fast food preparation... *grin*

 

 

 

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Re: China's energy solution: mining Helium-3 on the moon

Along with China's announcment of their Thorium MSR project and the subject of the moon, there is Thorium on the moon as well.

http://lunar.arc.nasa.gov/results/gamres.htm

 

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Space-mining

Hello

(I'm new to the forum, this is my first post.  English is not my native language, but I try to do my best.)

Until now we need fossil fuels to go into space. When fossil fuels are used up, we are stucked to this planet, until there are other ways to gain the needed propulsion to break away from gravity.

 

 

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rocket fuel
Giel wrote:

Hello

(I'm new to the forum, this is my first post.  English is not my native language, but I try to do my best.)

Until now we need fossil fuels to go into space. When fossil fuels are used up, we are stucked to this planet, until there are other ways to gain the needed propulsion to break away from gravity.

Giel,

Welcome to the site.  I think you may be confusing combustible fuels with fossil fuels.  We do presently need combustible fuels to get into space but not necessarily fossil fuels.

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Giel, There are other

Giel,

There are other propellants used that do not require fossil fuels.  For example hydrogen (from what I remember) is usually created from fossil fuels but it doesn't have to be, it's just done that way because it's the most cost-effective method at this time.

However, I think the decline of fossil fuels may have an indirect effect on space travel that could be just as limiting.  Like almost everything else a lot of the support infrastructure is supported by fossil fuels, and space programs (commercial and government) will face stiff competition for those resources.  In a future of less energy it is likely space programs will be given low priority, which breaks my heart because that was the whole reason I went into engineering.  I truly wish we'd established a largely self-sustaining space infrastructure before Peak Oil... it has the potential for resource extraction and manufacturing without environmental impacts on Earth.  Creating such an infrastructure will be so much harder to do in the coming decades; I only hope I get to live long enough to see it.

- Nickbert

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