|Lewis M. Andrews recently opined in the Chicago Sun-Times that geoscientists conclude that a gas known as helium-3 can produce abundant energy from nuclear fusion without simultaneously creating any radioactive waste. Yet helium-3 is rarely if ever mentioned in the same breath with the approved trinity of solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.|
It is true that helium-3, a lightweight isotope of the gas that fills children birthday balloons, is rarely found on Earth. Our planet has a thick atmosphere and magnetic field that blocks out rays coming from the sun that carry the element. But our nearest neighbor, the airless moon, turns out to be saturated with the stuff. In 1985, engineers from the University of Wisconsin discovered that lunar soil samples brought back to Earth by the Apollo missions contained unexpectedly high concentrations of it.
Today it has been estimated that up to 1.1 million metric tons of helium-3 reside at or near the lunar surface, which has been bombarded for billions of years by unfiltered solar winds. Just 40 tons of helium-3 ... about enough to fill two railroad boxcars ... could power the entire Earth at our present level of energy consumption for a year.
Mining the gas could finally free the United States ... and the world, from dependence on fossil fuels, wrote geologist astronaut (and former New Mexico Senator) Dr. Harrison Schmitt, who piloted the Apollo 17 lander, in a 2004 issue of Popular Mechanics. He and others have updated the matter with some surprising new ideas in the publication by the Energy Minerals Division of the AAPG Memoir 101, published in 2013. Nine Chapters, one by Schmitt, and other senior geoscientists from industry, university, and NASA. Chapter 9 presents the matter in a realistic framework reflecting the growing interest in offworld mining.
See ... http://i2massociates.com/downloads/Memoir101-CHAPTER09Rev.pdf