Posted by: h4ck@lyst | November 27, 2007

Helium-3 & China

Helium-3 (He-3) is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron, which is rare on Earth; it is sought after for use in nuclear fusion research. More abundant helium-3 is thought to exist on the Moon (embedded in the upper layer of regolith by the solar wind over billions of years) and the solar system‘s gas giants (left over from the original solar nebula), although still in low quantities (28 ppm of lunar regolith is helium-4 and 0.01 ppm is helium-3).[1] It is proposed to be used as a second-generation fusion power source.

The helion, the nucleus of a helium-3 atom, consists of two protons but only one neutron, in contrast to two neutrons in ordinary helium. Its existence was first proposed in 1934 by the Australian nuclear physicist Mark Oliphant while based at Cambridge University‘s Cavendish Laboratory, in an experiment in which fast deuterons were reacted with other deuteron targets (the first demonstration of nuclear fusion). Helium-3, as an isotope, was postulated to be radioactive, until helions from it were accidentally identified as a trace “contaminant” in a sample of natural helium (which is mostly helium-4) from a gas well, by Luis W. Alvarez and Robert Cornog in a cyclotron experiment at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in 1939. [2]

Physical properties

Helium-3’s atomic mass of 3.016, being significantly lower than Helium-4’s 4.0026, causes it to have significantly different properties. Helium-3 boils at 3.19 Kelvins compared to helium-4’s 4.23 K, and its critical point is also lower at 3.35 K, compared to helium-4’s 5.19 K. It has less than half the density when liquid at its boiling point: 0.059 g/ml compared to helium-4’s 0.12473 g/ml at one atmosphere. Its latent heat of vaporization is also considerably lower at 0.026 kJ/mol compared to helium-4’s 0.0829 kJ/mol.[3]

China’s ambitious plans in space

  • China embarking on a space program the world has not seen since the 1960’s
  • Chinese may be interested in mining helium-3 — a powerful, potential fuel source
  • China developing a new rocket with enough thrust to put a space station into orbit
  • They are planning a televised space walk by three taikonauts next year

The goal could be mining resources. One powerful, potential fuel source is helium-3. Helium-3 originated from the sun and was deposited in the moon’s soil by the solar wind. It is estimated there are up to two million tons on the moon, and virtually none on Earth.

“If we can ever get helium-3 and helium-3 to fuse together it is what we call nuclear power without nuclear waste — there is no radioactivity associated with that reactor,” says Professor Gerald Kulcinski, an expert in helium from the University of Wisconsin.



  1. I thought your readers would be interested in looking at these energy technologies and EPS’s theoretic base for ball lighting.

    Aneutronic Fusion: Here I am not talking about the big science ITER project taking thirty years, but the several small alternative plasma fusion efforts.

    There are three companies pursuing hydrogen-boron plasma toroid fusion, Paul Koloc, Prometheus II, Eric Lerner, Focus Fusion and Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems

    Vincent Page (a technology officer at GE!!) gave a presentation at the 05 6th symposium on current trends in international fusion research , which high lights the need to fully fund three different approaches to P-B11 fusion

    He quotes costs and time to development of P-B11 Fusion as tens of million $, and years verses the many decades and ten Billion plus $ projected for ITER and other “Big” science efforts

    Here are the links:

    U.S., Chilean Labs to Collaborate on Testing Scientific Feasibility of Focus Fusion

    However, short of a Energy “silver bullet” like fusion , Here is a fully DOABLE technology

    Time to Master the Carbon Cycle with Terra Preta Soil Technology;

    The integrated energy strategy offered by Charcoal based Terra Preta Soil technology may
    provide the only path to sustain our agricultural and fossil fueled power
    structure without climate degradation, other than nuclear power.

    The economics look good, and truly great if we had CO2 cap & trade in place:

    Terra Preta soils I feel has great possibilities to revolutionize sustainable agriculture into a major CO2 sequestration strategy.

    I thought the current news and links on Terra Preta soils and closed-loop pyrolysis would interest you.

    SCIAM Article May 15 07

    After many years of reviewing solutions to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) I believe this technology can manage Carbon for the greatest collective benefit at the lowest economic price, on vast scales. It just needs to be seen by ethical globally minded companies.

    Even with all the big corporations coming to the GHG negotiation table, like Exxon, Alcoa, .etc, we still need to keep watch as they try to influence how carbon management is legislated in the USA. Carbon must have a fair price, that fair price and the changes in the view of how the soil carbon cycle now can be used as a massive sink verses it now being viewed as a wash, will be of particular value to farmers and a global cool breath of fresh air for us all.

    If you have any other questions please feel free to call me or visit the TP web site I’ve been drafted to co-administer.

    It has been immensely gratifying to see all the major players join the mail list , Cornell folks, T. Beer of Kings Ford Charcoal (Clorox), Novozyne the M-Roots guys(fungus), chemical engineers, Dr. Danny Day of EPRIDA , Dr. Antal of U. of H., Virginia Tech folks and probably many others who’s back round I don’t know have joined.

    Also Here is the Latest BIG Terra Preta Soil news;

    ConocoPhillips Establishes $22.5 Million Pyrolysis Program at Iowa State 04/10/07

    Mechabolic , a pyrolysis machine built in the form of a giant worm to eat solid waste and product char & fuel at the “Burning Man” festival ;

    Erich J. Knight
    shengar at

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