Helium-3 on the Moon: Model Assumptions and Abundances

by Lawrence A. Taylor, Univ of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space IV

Abstract:

Solar-wind particles are present in the outer few 100 angstroms of each soil particle of the Moon. Of particular interest, are the volatiles hydrogen (40-100 ppm) and helium (5-45 ppm). The potential use of D-3He fusion for energy generation requires a ready supply of 3He, and there is a distinct paucity of this on Earth. However, compared to the Earth, the Moon is a virtual `oasis with springs of solar-wind helium.' Conservative estimates of the helium contents of the regolith are 3 ppb (5.4 mg/m3) of 3He for the highland areas and 6 ppb (10.8 mg/m3) for the maria. This would require the mining of about 300 mare football fields per year, an area of 1.5 km2 (<400 acres), to a depth of 3 m, to supply sufficient 3He for a 500 MW fusion D-3He plant.



Subject Headings: Moon | Lunar materials | Particles | Resource management | Solar power | Mathematics | Mathematical models | Mines and mining

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