Lunar Helium-3 Fuel for Nuclear Fusion: Technology, Economics, and Resources

Simko, T and Gray, M 2014, 'Lunar Helium-3 Fuel for Nuclear Fusion: Technology, Economics, and Resources', World Future Review, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 158-171.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Lunar Helium-3 Fuel for Nuclear Fusion: Technology, Economics, and Resources
Author(s) Simko, T
Gray, M
Year 2014
Journal name World Future Review
Volume number 6
Issue number 2
Start page 158
End page 171
Total pages 14
Publisher Sage
Abstract Nuclear fusion of helium-3 (3He) can be used to generate electrical power with little or no radioactive waste and no carbon emissions. Some forty-four tons of this fuel could meet the electricity needs of the United States for a year. Although rare on Earth, an estimated one million tons of 3He has collected on the surface of the moon. While it would cost approximately US$17 billion to develop a mine producing one ton of 3He per year, such an operation is commercially viable over the medium term given the estimated value of that ton of fuel: US$3.7 billion. This article outlines the technical and economic issues related to 3He and its extraction, and it presents a novel approach to estimating the worth of the fuel. The potential of 3He as a future energy source is set in the context of global energy forecasts and international efforts to investigate lunar 3He resourcesincluding a recent Chinese mission.
Subject Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) helium-3
nuclear fusion
electricity generation
energy forecasts
DOI - identifier 10.1177/1946756714536142
Copyright notice © The Author(s) 2014
ISSN 1946-7567
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