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Mine The Moon For Helium-3

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the imperative-voice dept.

Space 644

Rob Kennedy writes "A story at The Daily Cardinal is reporting that UW-Madison researchers are looking to mine the moon for helium-3 as an energy source, which supposedly would yield about 1000 times more energy per pound than coal. Although there are several hurdles that would need to be cleared, The Associated Press mentions one catch in particular: 'The researchers still are working on building a helium-3 reactor that would produce more energy than it takes in.' Indeed. SciScoop has a more in-depth discussion of the prospect."

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Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048686)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

FROSTY LESBIAN PISS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048691)

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Re:FROSTY LESBIAN PISS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048802)

YOU FAILED IT.

Shave your beard and find yourself a man.

Re:FROSTY LESBIAN PISS (-1)

Dragoonkain (704719) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048855)

I kill women like you for fun and dump their bodies in trash bags..

Re:FROSTY LESBIAN PISS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048881)

you fail it. I hereby revoke your lesbian membership. go suck scotroll's teabag stupid bisexual girl.

In other news (3, Funny)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048692)

Balloon sellers go out of business as prices of helium plummet
18 year old choirboys whose voices broke 4 years ago rejoyce

Re:In other news (4, Interesting)

wass (72082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048841)

meanwhile cryogenics folks will rejoice because currently He3 is very expensive. And He3 cryostats are the basic workhorse for getting below temperatures of 1K.

Evaporative pumping of He3 can get you to about 250 mK, and using a He3/He4 dilution refrigerator can get one to about 10 mK.

A cheaper source of He3 would be good news, currently it's several hundred bucks for (I think) a liter of He3 gas at STP.

Re:In other news (1)

Ilex (261136) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048893)

1k He3 cooled CPU. That would make for a rather impressive though expensive Overclocked CPU!

crock (1)

buttfuckinpimpnugget (662332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048694)

What a crock of lighter than air shit!

Associated Press (5, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048699)

Put out more energy than it takes in? Once again, never trust the AP for science.

Re:Associated Press (4, Insightful)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048751)

Put out more energy than it takes in? Once again, never trust the AP for science.

Actually, that's a serious problem. No one has yet built a fusion reactor that, for sustained periods, produces more energy than it takes to keep running.

Re:Associated Press (1)

GnrlFajita (732246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048805)

For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that the He3 fusion plants have been proved out, and folks are frantically building them, just waiting for us to show up with with tanks full of helium-3.

I think this says it all.

No... what he was trying to say is... (1, Insightful)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048910)

It can't produce more energy that is put into it. Electrical energy, plus mechanical energy, plus heat energy, plus the energy in the helium-3. It will never produce more energy than is put into it. Otherwise, you have a problem with the laws of physics.

Re:Associated Press (1)

petabyte (238821) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048769)

Its a valid statement. Fusion reactors require more energy to run than is produced in the reaction.

I don't know how a helium 3 reactor works, but it probably requires more energy to start the reaction than is produced by the reaction. Hopefully that will change.

Re:Associated Press (1)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048889)

Yup yup.. Physics 101.. You can't get more energy from a system than you put in it.

Re:Associated Press (4, Insightful)

dekashizl (663505) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048993)

Put out more energy than it takes in? Once again, never trust the AP for science.

Not sure if you were attempting humor or just being pedantic. Nobody's claiming to create a perpetual motion machine on the moon. I think we all know what they meant by that statement (i.e. not including energy stored in the Helium itself, which is presumably somewhat abundant), and it gets to the heart of the problem.

How high? (4, Funny)

macshune (628296) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048700)

If inhaling Helium-1 makes my voice high, Helium-2 makes it higher, how high will Helium-3 make it?

Re:How high? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048756)

cunt.

Re:How high? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048810)

please mod parent down; it's fucking shit.

Re:How high? (2, Informative)

JuliusRV (742529) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048820)

Ordinary Helium is Helium-4 (two neutrons, two protons), Helium-3 is a lighter isotope with one less neutron. So no Helium-1 or Helium-2 :-)

Re:How high? (1)

sacherjj (7595) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048861)

Helium-1 or Helium-2 would be Hydrogen, right?

Re:How high? (2, Informative)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048927)


No, Helium-2 could possible exist, it would just have two protons and zero neutrons.
Helium-1 makes no sense, but if you drop down to only one proton, its not Helium, its Hydrogen. Calling Hydrogen Helium-1 makes little sense though.
Maybe if you had 2 protons and -1 neutrons, you could call that Helium-1. But how exactly do you get an anti-neutron?

Re:How high? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048985)

Maybe if you had 2 protons and -1 neutrons, you could call that Helium-1. But how exactly do you get an anti-neutron?

You can get an anti-neutron the same place you get any other antiparticle, but it wouldn't give you Helium-1. It would be Helium-3, because an anti-neutron still counts as a nucleon.

Re:How high? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048944)

Helium-1 or Helium-2 would be Hydrogen, right?

Helium-1 would be hydrogen, but helium-2 is helium with two protons and two electrons -- and a half-life too short to measure.

THE MOON IS FALLING!!!!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048708)

great now whats going to keep it floating up there??? :)

On a more serious note (0)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048895)

great now whats going to keep it floating up there

More seriously, what's going to happen to the earth's climate as we lighten up the moon by removing mass from it? Ah, wait- Bush wants to put trash up there to replace what we take, right?

If you don't know what I'm talking about- the moon is largely responsible for ocean currents, and those ocean currents move warm water to cold areas and cold water to warm areas, heavily influencing, if not determining, climates. Not to mention the thousands(probably hundreds of thousands) of aquatic species that depend upon currents and tides. How about international commerce, which depends on shipping, which in turn depends on currents, weather, and tide levels to navigate channels? Plenty of places are passable at high tide, and unpassable at low tide.

The list of things which depend upon the moon(and its effects on the earth) is mind-bogglingly long...and we really ought not mess around with it.

Re:On a more serious note (4, Interesting)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8049000)

Not that I am an oceanographer or anything... But tides from the moon do cause currents; however the big "belt" currents of cold water circling the globe (or winding around rather) are caused by cooling of water at the poles (which then sinks) and to a certain extent the fresh water taken out by freezing.

Likewise, there is no country on Earth that has the budget to move enough mass either way to affect the Moon/Earth system. Simply ain't gonna happen.

(Earth loses atmosphere all the time, and takes on tons and tons of stardust from outerspace too... nobody worries about that changing orbits or tides.)

So mod parent down for "technically correct" but way overblowing the wrong thing.

Is there REALLY anything wrong with Fission power? (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048716)

I mean come on. We can't even get one watt of positive energy flow out of Fusion and they already want to mine the moon for it. Let's spend our time developing better fission reactors, including ones for space engines. Then we can use them to get our scientists to the moon so they can play with Helium-3 and Fusion all they want.

Re:Is there REALLY anything wrong with Fission pow (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048776)

Chernobyl.

Re:Is there REALLY anything wrong with Fission pow (5, Funny)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048806)

Is there REALLY anything wrong with Fission power?

Yes. It's politically and socially unacceptable.

Re:Is there REALLY anything wrong with Fission pow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048831)

We've got to deplete all the fossil fuels first, then we go to Helium-3. After we deplete that then maybe, MAYBE, they'll give us the over-unity devices they already have...but they'll make them illegal except for energy providers, so we'll still have to buy energy from them.

Re:Is there REALLY anything wrong with Fission pow (0)

petabyte (238821) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048868)

Umm, yes. Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 come to mind. They decay for a very, very long time.

And beyond the pollution issue there is the fact that fusion produces more energy than fission per the amount of mass (I think; its been a very long time since physics).

That and we have easy access to a great fusion reactor. Its that big bright thing :).

Re:Is there REALLY anything wrong with Fission pow (0)

damiam (409504) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048930)

So you're offering your backyard for the waste dump then?

Cutting Edge research... (5, Informative)

CommieLib (468883) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048718)

Wow. Here's a space.com article [space.com] from three and a half years ago on the same subject.

Physical laws? (1)

Wingchild (212447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048719)

The Associated Press mentions one catch in particular: 'The researchers still are working on building a helium-3 reactor that would produce more energy than it takes in.'

That, and the fact that Amazon doesn't offer Super Saver Shipping on Helium-3. It'll be fun to see if they can come up with a way to utilize that power and get it here without wasting an equilvalent amount of power for the process itself. Negative efficiency in excess of -100% of your input is baaad.

gayboys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048720)

Just how is, according to the article, the moon "a source of potentially unlimited energy"?????

Re:gayboys (1)

k12linux (627320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048972)

None of the three articles I read said it was unlimited. Based on current use it would run out in only 3,650,000 years or so. (One load per day for 10,000 years with each load generating the same amount of electricity used in a year.)

They're going about this the wrong way. (1)

LNO (180595) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048731)

Look, they should just get a methane reactor going, and come by my place after a trip to La Casa Del Taco.

The only trouble with the moon will be when I drop my pants at them.

Now, who wrote.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048734)

The Moon Rulez #1 on my car?

Also, beware Slashdot readers, on the moon, nerds have their pants pulled down and they are spanked with moon rocks.

Re:Now, who wrote.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048857)

Ignignot: Hello, Slashdot, I am Ignignot and this is Err.

Err: I am Err.

Ignignot: We are Mooninites from the inner core of the moon.

Err: You said it right!

Ignignot: Our race is hundreds of years beyond yours.

Err: Man, do you hear what he's saying?

Ignignot: Some would say that the Earth is our moon.

Err: WE'RE the moon.

Ignignot: But that would belittle the name of our moon. Which is: The Moon.

Err: Point is, we're at the center. Not you.

First get it working with tritium... (5, Informative)

hpa (7948) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048740)

Well, we're still working [iter.org] on getting a net-gain fusion reaction going with deuterium and tritium, which is a considerably easier fusion reaction to start than deuterium and Helium-3. The advantage with the D-He3 reaction is that it is theoretically aneutronic, but in any D-He3 fusion-capable environment you're going to have enough D-D fusion to have to worry about neutrons anyway...

Re:First get it working with tritium... (2, Insightful)

kippy (416183) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048980)

I'm willing to bet that we'll still be working on getting a mining opperation up and running on the moon by the time we are ready for D-He3 reactors. It just makes good sense to start laying the groundwork for a mining opperation if it will take 10-15 years to get going.

It's just like cooking dinner, you don't wait for each thing to finish cooking, you start things off at next to each other so when you want things to be done, they'll be ready at the same time.

Halliburton anyone? (2, Funny)

Attitude Adjuster (683211) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048742)

Any other cynics out there thinking some Haliburton exec read some popular science mag and talk Cheney/Bush to annex the Moon for them quick?

Re:Halliburton anyone? (3, Funny)

zulux (112259) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048844)

Any other cynics out there thinking some Haliburton exec read some popular science mag and talk Cheney/Bush to annex the Moon for them quick?

Noam?? Is that you??

Re:Halliburton anyone? (1, Redundant)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048929)

Any other cynics out there thinking some Haliburton exec read some popular science mag and talk Cheney/Bush to annex the Moon for them quick?

In other news, President Bush declared the Moon-men "part of the axis of evil" and has announced the start of "Operation Loony Freedom", to liberate Earth's satelite from "Moon-men tear-or-wrists with nooky-leer Weapons of Mass Moon Destruction (WMMDs)".

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was quoted as saying that, for reasons of national security, all energy concessions on the Moon have already been assigned to Halliburton in no-bid contracts.

Under the auspices of the "Stopping Lunarian Aggression Patriot Act", Reichsminister Ashcroft has announced the suspension of habeas corpus "for the duration". All non-Christians are required to report for "special licensing".

Re:Halliburton anyone? (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048941)

Yes, and they want to send men to Mars to drill for oil. Put down that copy of the Illuminatus! Not everything is a conspiracy.

This is Neither News nor Stuff that Matters (1, Interesting)

kwpulliam (691406) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048743)

As a regular and vocal proponent in my office, family, and circle of friends of manned exploration / exploitation of space and its resources, I can tell you that H3 mining is very old news.

The technical limitations haven't changed in decades.

Step 1 - Make a reactor that is a net PRODUCER of energy.

Re:This is Neither News nor Stuff that Matters (-1, Flamebait)

kwpulliam (691406) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048826)

My post above was in no way a "Troll".

I stated my background - Longtime supporter etc etc

I stated my opinion. - This is not news.

I stated a fact. - The same hurdles still apply.

I closed with a simple summation. - Step 1 etc.

Re:This is Neither News nor Stuff that Matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048904)

He's right. Mod grandparent up because it actually makes sense.

Re:This is Neither News nor Stuff that Matters (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048926)

yeah, but his followup to his own posting was a troll ;)

j/k, sort of

Re:This is Neither News nor Stuff that Matters (2, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048989)

I agree with you. But hey, you gotta say that this is a huge improvement in the Bush administration. At least it's THEORETICALLY possible to get energy from H3 and deuterium. Compare this to plans to dump billions into the "hydrogen economy" by Bush et. al. Where apparently the energy will just spring forth out of the ground to create all that hydrogen.


I don't claim to know how much effort has really been put into He-3 fusion research, given how scarce He-3 is on Earth. The U Wisconsin guys seem to think it's an easier problem than traditional fusion research has tried to tackle (based on this document [wisc.edu] ).

fusion is only a few decades away... (5, Funny)

js7a (579872) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048754)

...just like it was 50 years ago.

Finally... (1)

herrvinny (698679) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048760)

Finally, UW Madison gets mentioned for something useful, unlike this story. [slashdot.org]

uh, it's THE MOON! (0, Troll)

H8X55 (650339) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048765)

'The researchers still are working on building a helium-3 reactor that would produce more energy than it takes in.'

Great. So we've got our power problem on the moon solved for a bit. What about getting that power back to earth. Oh yeah. nevermind.

Let solve our problems here before we go solving problems elsewhere, folks.

Re:uh, it's THE MOON! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048971)

if we can get the power problem solved there, then we can send people there who don't belong here.

Exotic materials... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048771)

These are exotic materials, no doubt. more info [blat.info]

Re:Exotic materials... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048869)

stop plugging your lame blat.info pages - its getting old. you can find a better way to whore karma.

See, Bush was right. (0, Flamebait)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048777)

And you guys thought descending the moon's gravity well and coming back up was a stupid way to get to Mars!

See, we'll just deficit-spend a bajillion dollars in tax credits to Halliburton, to build our mighty Helium-3 mines on the moon (staffed with happy prisoners from the efficient corporate-franchised prison system) and the Mars rockets will have all the fuel they need right there on the lunar surface.

The man's a visionary, I tell you!

Wow how convienent... (1)

inteller (599544) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048779)

....even though there has been talk about this shit for years, it is now getting news coverage in light of Bush's plan to go to the moon. So when we get there, who will get to claim it? All of mankind or Halliburton and other Bush croney corps?

How DARE you! (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048850)


Are you trying to imply that there are conservatives or maybe even neo-conservatives among the slashdot press corps?

Why, next you'll be saying there are racist trolls! Have you no decency?

Fusion research in trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048787)

The forefront of fusion research will be ITER. [iter.org] Unfortunately, this project is in peril because the participants have so far been unable to agree upon a location.

Canada withdrew from the project [hindustantimes.com] after its location was rejected by the other participants. Now France is threatening to split from the project. [expatica.com]

Not gonna happen... (1)

bckrispi (725257) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048800)

Come on. As if the Oil Lobby will ever allow a cleaner, more efficient energy source to be available to consumers. How much effort has Dubbya given to his "Hydrogen Car" initiative beyond 10 minutes of lip service??

Re:Not gonna happen... (2, Informative)

eaolson (153849) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048902)

Come on. As if the Oil Lobby will ever allow a cleaner, more efficient energy source to be available to consumers. How much effort has Dubbya given to his "Hydrogen Car" initiative beyond 10 minutes of lip service??
If you consider the fact that pretty much the only commercially viable way to make H2 in serious quantity is by using CH4 (i.e. natural gas), the Hydrogen Car idea becomes even more useless. Sure, you could crack H2O into H2 and O2, but that's terribly energy intensive and no one does it that way. Add the fact that there's no feasable way to contain enough H2 for use in your car, since it doesn't liquify except under tremendous pressure, and the H2 Car becomes a distract-the-voter proposition.

This could be bad (2, Funny)

TigerTime (626140) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048801)

If we take all the helium off the moon, then what's gonna hold it up there!? gasp! cringe!

Back to Earth (3, Insightful)

munch0wnsy0u (619737) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048812)

That is all well and good that it produces a substantial, if not infinite, amount of energy more than coal does, but realize that the energy needed to get it back to earth lessens its appeal and ultimately, its usefulness. Unless it is specifically directed towards interplanetary spaceflight to planets beyond our own, I say leave it be until then.

Slightly more sarcastical view (0, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048814)

Spaced Out Invaders [msn.com]

Relevant quote for the lazy:

In fairness to the president, I did a little research and found the microscopic grain of truth in what he was saying. It turns out that there is, indeed, an abundant quantity of something called helium-3 just under the surface of the moon. Forget for a second that we still lack the technology to use helium-3 for anything except making your voice sound really high and squeaky. Thanks to nuclear fusion, helium-3 will someday be that long-envisioned clean-burning, limitless energy supply.

Problem is, the Earth is actually running out of helium. I could tell you why we're running out of helium, but you probably already believe that it's all Bill Clinton's fault, so I won't bother changing your mind. The fact is, we're running out of helium...fast. How fast? Let's put it this way, by the year 2104, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is going to suck.

But the moon has so much helium-3 that it practically floats. Scientists estimate that the million tons of helium-3 on the moon could provide enough energy to power the Earth for thousands of years (or 28 Hummer-driving soccer moms for three weeks). Of course, these estimates depend on which scientists are making the estimates--the ones who predicted we'd all be living in a utopia of perfectly fitting unitards or the ones who've crashed two space shuttles in 17 years.

Re:Slightly more sarcastical view (1)

JKR (198165) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048935)

Of course, these estimates depend on which scientists are making the estimates--the ones who predicted we'd all be living in a utopia of perfectly fitting unitards or the ones who've crashed two space shuttles in 17 years

I think you might find those scientists were managers...

Jon.

This is old news. (3, Informative)

Blingin' AMD (625054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048821)

Dating from the 1980's [wisc.edu]

If just the US can run on "one space shuttle load" per year of this astrofuel, then what about more densely populated countries, like China or Japan?

What will the petroleum lobby think about this?

What political repercussions would result if a US president pulled crap like OPEC does (threatening embargoes, being real bastards with prices, etc;) today if the US were to follow through with a plan like this?

What will mining the moon do to things like tides here on Earth? (shifting mass like that on the surface/possibly expelling it into space -which I hope won't be the case, that would be really bad-)

Do you honestly think this will remove our dependence on fossil fuel completely? Look at your computer. It's prolly got a lot of plastic in, on, and around it. Same with probably the rest of your room. Multiply that by a couple/few billion and you get the idea. Also, with the demand for plastic products growing ever more insistent, by the time (if) we get to enact a feasible plan for mining the moon, how much oil will be required to make non-energy products?

How greatly do you think this will change civilization as we know it? We'll still have electricity, the only difference would prolly be that we're mining it from the moon, from a consumer standpoint, that is. What humanitarian /technology/quality-of-life improvements do you think we, as people in a social/civilization context will see as a direct result of mining energy from the moon?

Call me a pessimist bastard who says the glass is half empty. I don't necessarily see THIS glass as half empty, but I don't see it as half full either. I'd say I see it as just another damn glass with some damn water in it. If we get our energy from the moon, whoopty-friggin'-do, we'll be getting it from the moon, we'll still pay for it. We'll still have electricity. Just be sure to inform me when they find a way to make something like plastic out of something other than oil (for instance polymerizing something more readily available, say, water. ) THEN will I be more enthusiastic.

Useful information (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048825)

Please add my the following line in your /etc/host file

198.247.175.96 goatse.cx

thank you

Energy problem (2, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048838)

Ignoring the issues of transportation, construction, etc, etc, etc, the "creation of more energy than it uses" strikes me as fascinating.

The goal behind using He^3 is that you can transport it. Cool the sucker down, put it into a canister, ship it back to Earth and use it there. Next thing you know, the Middle East doesn't matter anymore. (Please, no politics.)

Again, ignoring the issues of having the stuff explode on reintry, how to get it all back, etc, etc, etc.

But the energy issue really isn't one. Last time I checked, the Moon doesn't have an atmosphere, so solar energy is easier to get to than on Earth. At that point, you can have a system produce all the He^3 you want, and who cares about initial efficiency when you've got Big Old Mr. Sun providing your energy for you?

Just a thought. This is the kind of thing that 100 years down the road could be useful, and I'm probably making bad assumptions, but the idea is still kind of cool.

Re:Energy problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048943)

Again, ignoring the issues of having the stuff explode on reintry, how to get it all back,

That's hard to ignore. From the article you have to seperate the 1 ton of he3 from the 2000 tons of normal helium and hydrogen you don't want. That takes energy and money.

Re:Energy problem (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048976)

"Again, ignoring the issues of having the stuff explode on reintry"

Uh... *helium* exploding?

That'll be a cold day in hell... :)

100 years ahead of their time (3, Insightful)

hcg50a (690062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048839)

Two University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists believe moon rocks contain all the energy the United States needs for the next millennium.

I love it. We don't even have economic fusion yet, and these guys are talking about mining the fuel from the moon.

It would seem that with standard deuterium and tritium fusion, involving only plentiful isotopes of hydrogen found on Earth, there's utterly no need to get helium from the moon.

The main problem is the mastering the fusion process itself, not where we're gonna get the fuel from!

D-He3 more efficient... (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048981)

It would seem that with standard deuterium and tritium fusion, involving only plentiful isotopes of hydrogen found on Earth, there's utterly no need to get helium from the moon.

D-He3 has two advantages, as I understand it (ie poorly). One, the number of neutrons emitted is much, much lower, so your plant is much less radioactive - as well as environmental benefits it means the reactor components last a lot longer. Secondly, apparently you don't need to run a steam turbine to extract electricity from the reaction - you can do so directly and at much higher efficiencies. I don't really get how this is supposed to work, though.

STARCONTROL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048845)

thats it.

The Dueterium - Helium3 reactor (2, Informative)

tr0llb4rt0 (742153) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048852)

This has been discussed for years and how close are we to a working, ie more energy out than we put in, prototype are we??

Once we have a proper working efficient reactor then moon ahoy.

Build the reactors on the moon as well and use microwve transmitters to beam the power to earth via reciever satellites.

Gotta be safer and cheaper than multi-tonne rocks of froxen HE3 (the only mass sensible way of moving it) being fired at us by linear accelerator.

Energy crisis? (0)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048853)

The title of that article asks whether the Moon's He3 can solve the "energy crisis." What energy crisis? We have enough oil and coal to last for centuries, and who knows how much fissionables if only the politics would allow more nuclear plants. There is going to have to be a better argument for He3, such as environmental effects.

Re:Energy crisis? (1)

ignipotentis (461249) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048983)

You know this is 2004, not 1804 right?

But first . . . (1)

wornst (317182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048864)

we would have to take over the moon, appoint a governing council, and establish a democracy.

Or they could just leave the moon alone (1, Insightful)

Logicdisorder (686635) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048871)

I think that we have fucked up our own planet enough with mining without heading out to space and fucking up others. And saying they are already fucked is a copout, we have no real idea about the moon or mars or any of the other planets as far what could be living on there.

What they need to do instead of wasting money on this sort of enengy production is look at finding better ways of using solar power. It is free and it does not requre the need to blow holes in anything to get access to it. And then there is Coldfusion which seems like a pretty good idea as well and does not need for us to leave the planet.

I am a bit of a hippy when it comes to this stuff

B.S. (2, Interesting)

SparafucileMan (544171) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048874)

The scientists who dealt with the press report said the moon is "a source of potentially unlimited energy in the form of helium 3 isotope."

Any scientist who claims there is unlimited energy on any planet needs to go back to Thermodynamics 101...

This story is nonsense.

This explains everything! (3, Insightful)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048878)

No wonder Bush wants to build a moon base!

Seriously, say what you will about him, the President is a man who understands the approaching energy crisis. If it's true that the fossil-based economy will expire by 2040 (the number quoted by my college professor), then we're looking at a very violent game of hot potato over the remaining fuel. Controlling the next generation energy supply could be important if fossil fuels remain the most efficient way to get to space.

Of course, I'd much rather see renewable Earth sources of fuel (like solar, geothermal, corn oil, etc)...but then, nobody CONTROLS the sun. So there's no economic or political incentive like there is with an exclusive source like oil or nuclear.

obligatory homerism (5, Funny)

clmensch (92222) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048880)

"In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!"
- Homer J. Simpson

Save the Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048883)

We like the moon! [rathergood.com]

Braking (1)

manganese4 (726568) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048885)

Does anyone know if those parachutes the shuttle uses to slow itself down will handle a 30 ton payload? Or will they just eject the payload over one of the many strip mines in Appalachia for processing?

one small problem.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048897)

all that helium 3 is nice and all, but a depolyable fusion reactor is still far, far away.... lets get the engine built and working before we start mining the fuel for it.

1000 times the energy (1)

Michael Crutcher (631990) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048899)

So He-3 provides 1000 times the energy of coal. Exactly how much more costly is extracting a pound of He-3 from the moon than extracting a pound of coal from a hill in America?

A million times more expensive? Ten million times more expensive?

I'm no economist, but that sounds like the most retarded business plan I've ever heard. Ohh ya, maybe we should worry about making fusion reactions a net energy creator before we start talking about mining the moon for fuel.

related story.... (2, Funny)

macshune (628296) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048901)

Two UW Madison Professors announced plans today to help supplement waning global cheese supplies by mining the moon for cheese.

"The moon has a virtually unlimited supply of cheese, most notably the Pepperjackus Mons. This literal hill-of-cheese is an area that is the size of Rhode Island and comprised entirely of pepperjack," said Professor Klaus von Berrywinkle.

Cheese is typically mined in third-world countries with little regard for safety standards or labor laws. Authoritarian regimes usually hold sway over the cheese mines as well and placating them is a full-time priority for many governments.

"Unfortunately, cheddar is in short supply on the moon, but it is feasible that there is a cache of it somewhere that has eluded our che-dar," chortled Professor Eniac van Bumblybum.

The scientists later added that the supply of cheese on the moon would last the Earth thousands of years at the current rate of consumption.

"Although it would last quite awhile at the current rate of consumption, the past has shown that when you remove constraints consumption rises dramtically. I would not be surprised if, given a more efficient method of transportation, all the cheese on the moon would be eaten within 3-5 generations," Berrywinkle portended.

well, duh... (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048909)

which supposedly would yield about 1000 times more energy per pound than coal

Well, OF COURSE it would...it's HELIUM, for crying out loud...I mean, it weights negative pounds! That's why they pit it in balloons!! That's gotta be screwing up their smarty-pants equations.

Man, I gotta get ME one of those research grants.

I Was Just Going To Say That (1)

thelizman (304517) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048957)

But then, negative weight ought to yield a negative number for energy when factored, so technically HE3 would have athousand times less...

The point is, unlike at slashdot, most people don't realize that "pound" is relative to gravity on earth in a large vacuum chamber. People who report this shit ought to use the kilogram instead. But then, my country is too concerned about bashing it's president and trying to get bigger pork-barrel patronage social-spending systems in place to care about SI.

Re:well, duh... (1)

Blingin' AMD (625054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048977)

No, considering that pounds are irrelevant (negative pounds, please go take a physics course at your local secondary school/comm. college/university) they would just factor in density (helium is less dense than air, hence all the floatiness) Just because ice floats in water, does than mean it has negative weight?

Why? (4, Insightful)

El (94934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048938)

"helium-3... would yield about 1000 times more energy per pound than coal. And cost about 10,000 times more per pound to mine... doesn't sound like a big economic win to me.

so how long... (1)

ricochet81 (707864) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048939)

till the moon comes crashing into us, (or leaves our orbit)? Wont changing the mass of the moon throw things off?!

Thousands of years? (4, Insightful)

Rostin (691447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048945)

They don't even have a reactor yet that produces net power, and they are estimating that the moon has enough helium to supply the earth with energy for a thousand years? What could they possibly be basing this estimate on.

"Gee Bob, some journalist wants to know how much energy is on the moon. Should I assume that the reactor we may or may not be able to come up with will be 99% efficient or 5% efficient?"

"I'd go with 99%. We're running low on grant money."

MOON THEFT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8048958)

space treaties forbit ownership of space. SO, why are they doing it? Would this be considered stealing ?

Why go to the moon for He3... (1)

joesao (466680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048964)

...when you can get decent renewable energy on Earth?

Oh, so you can't create a reactor that spits out more energy than it takes in? What about putting research effort into creating a more energy-efficient way to extract ethanol from corn?

In countries like Brazil, ethanol has a positive energy balance. It polutes much less than gasoline and it's easily renewable.

Going to the moon for He3 sounds like an overly elaborate and exotic, not to say stupid, idea.

So get two (1)

cyril3 (522783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048975)

One cargo supply would provide the United States with all the electricity it needs for a year, according to the scientists.

and the rest of the world is happy as well.

This is news? (4, Informative)

kaszeta (322161) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048995)

Harrison Schmitt, who happens to be both an Adjunct Professor at Wisconsin [wisc.edu] as well as a former Apollo astronaut [nasa.gov] has been harping on this for years (since the mid-70s).

I'm not sure why this warrants an article now, seeing that no real developments on the topic have happened in a long time...

didn't anyone see the Time Machine 2002? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 10 years ago | (#8048997)

ok, it sucked, but still it did a good job scaring me with those pieces of the moon in the night sky because we blew it up by mistake

broken moon shot [badmovieplanet.com]

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