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Lirdon t1_j307e3y wrote

Building helium 3 mines off planet are massively expensive, especially considering that we don’t have any colonies in space, you literally have to build everything from scratch. If we had colonies in space already, then maybe. This means that anyone that wants to do this will pay every high bill for something that there MIGHT be a market for in some future, its a mighty big risk for the investment needed.

In addition to that, most Tokamak reactors don’t use helium 3, so there is no real demand for it.

Apparently there is a way to synthesize Helium 3 on the earth, and it obviously would be cheaper than building colonies off planet.


Loon013 t1_j30bpk6 wrote

Helium 3 is much easier to produce on earth than it is to mine on the moon. Tritium (hydrogen with two neutrons) is used in h-bombs. It has a half life of 12 yrs and decays into helium 3. Tritium can be produced by bombarding lithium with neutrons.

And we are not capable of deuterium/helium 3 fusion reactors yet, which are orders of magnitude more difficult than deuterium/tritium reactors.

Fusion power is like a manned mars mission, always 20 to 30 years from now. I know there are recent developments that may change both, but they both still need significant breakthroughs.


FNFiveThree t1_j30swro wrote

Helion has had some success with Deuterium / Helium 3.


fangedrandy OP t1_j30cb73 wrote

I assumed we were about 20 or so years away but yeah that's my bad.


fangedrandy OP t1_j30cd3c wrote

Given technology grows at an exponential rate etc.


H-K_47 t1_j30748j wrote

Cuz we haven't even figured out basic nuclear fusion yet, let alone the kind that needs Helium-3. Even if we did, it would probably be cheaper to mine or produce it right here on Earth.


FrostyAcanthocephala t1_j307wdf wrote

It's not currently useful, there's no way to harvest it, and if it's produced by the Sun it will be nearly ubiquitous.


the_fungible_man t1_j309ovg wrote

Why would we? Currently there is no significant commercial or military use for ^(3)He. One of those is usually necessary to justify any effort to stockpile a resource.


AWardfiction t1_j30a6vd wrote

We should skip the 'fighting wars over it' part and all work for the prosperity of our species. We can actually do that anytime we want.


alainreid t1_j30fo96 wrote

What is up with Reddit lately? Are these just AIs trying to train themselves?


fangedrandy OP t1_j30g05g wrote

I remember that Bush had plans to do/implement this when he was POTUS and then I never heard anything about it afterwards. Is AI really getting that advanced?


alainreid t1_j32czun wrote

I'm not sure what the "this" is that you are referring to, meaning I don't know if you mean AIs or space mining, but AIs can be trained. I don't really think they'd surf the web without being instructed to do so.


fangedrandy OP t1_j32lg5j wrote

This was in reference to AI, honestly I didn't know they could do half of the things they seem to be capable of. Kinda scary tbh. Sorry I guess I'm just out of the loop/uninformed about new technology.


SvenTropics t1_j30g5w2 wrote

Helion has a plan to create helium-3 and then use it as a fuel source.

Basically it works like this:

  1. they use a process to extract deuterium from the ocean. (Vapor and electrolysis, this is easy enough)

  2. they use a dual plasma mechanism to slam two hyper heated balls of deuterium into each other. This fuses and creates helium-3 releasing a neutron which can be captured with a beryllium blanket making this process mostly energy neutral. (Some production) alternatively, this can just be moderated in water so as to not have any nuclear waste.

Note: Some tritium is also created, but this can be easily captured by mixing it with oxygen and letting this water vapor decay with a half life of 12 years into helium-3.

  1. they then use a separate reactor to slam two mixtures of helium-3 and deuterium into each other creating helium-4 and spitting out a proton. The proton pushes back on the magnetic field creating power directly without the need of a blanket or steam pumps. The loose proton finds an electron and is just hydrogen.

fangedrandy OP t1_j30gxo7 wrote

essentially clean energy then right? Doesn't seem like it's too far fetched.


SvenTropics t1_j30n3qu wrote

Mostly. They've already proven it too. Right now they are building their next generation reactor that will actually produce power. The last version demonstrated the release of energy correctly.

The one step that will have some consequences is creating the helium-3. The problem with smashing two deuterium atoms together is that neutrons can't be constrained by a magnetic field. That reactor will likely need more maintenance as a result. We could try to capture the neutron with some sort of modulator. The problem with beryllium is that it's extremely rare and typically has uranium inside it in low quantities. This uranium accumulating neutrons will create radioactive waste.

The second process can be completely contained with a magnetic field.


uski t1_j30v9rg wrote

Gosh people PLEASE STOP asking questions then deleting your question once you get an answer. So fucking annoying


fangedrandy OP t1_j3089nd wrote

Both of those are astute observations. My thought process I guess was that the lunar regolith contains vast amounts of fusion material to be utilized alongside deuterium from our seawater.


MSY2HSV t1_j30aa2z wrote

D-T fusion is deuterium and tritium, neither of which are helium. Tritium is hydrogen-3, not helium.


SpartanJack17 t1_j30uorl wrote

Hello u/fangedrandy, your submission "Helium-3" has been removed from r/space because:

  • Such questions should be asked in the "All space questions" thread stickied at the top of the sub.

Please read the rules in the sidebar and check r/space for duplicate submissions before posting. If you have any questions about this removal please message the r/space moderators. Thank you.