Mobile Helium-3 Mining and Extraction System and Its Benefits Toward Lunar Base Self-Sufficiency

by I. N. Sviatoslavsky, Univ of Wisconsin-Madison, United States,
M. Jacobs, Univ of Wisconsin-Madison, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space

Abstract: The D-He3 fueled nuclear fusion reaction has long been recognized as one of the most attractive for generating clean fusion energy. Although aware of its virtues, fusion researchers had despaired of ever using it because they did not know where to obtain He3. Recently University of Wisconsin scientists upon reviewing data on constituents of lunar samples, confirmed their suspicion on the presence of He3 in lunar regolith. He3 originates in the sun and is transported by the solar wind where it has been implanted in the lunar surface over several billion years. It is estimated that about a million tonnes of He3 is stored in lunar regolith. A kg of He3 can generate 10 MW-years of electric energy on earth, worth 5-10 M$ by present day costs. The benefits for a permanent lunar base from by-products of a He3 mining operation are very impressive. In this paper we describe a mobile He3 miner and its implication toward the resupply of a lunar base.

Subject Headings: Lunar materials | Mines and mining | Nuclear power | Electric power | Fuels | Renewable energy | Colleges and universities

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