Mining expedition to the Moon will aim to extract helium-3 isotope
US Nuclear Corp. and Solar System Resources Corp. in Poland have signed a historic transatlantic agreement for the supply of the rare helium-3 isotope from deposits located on the Moon.
Solar System Resources has agreed to provide 500 kilograms of helium-3 to U.S. Nuclear Corp. in the 2028-2032 timeframe.
According to a paper published by Jeff Bonde and Anthony Tortorello, helium-3 is an isotope that has been deposited in lunar soil over billions of years by solar wind. Roughly 1.1 million metric tons of the isotope exists on the Moon down to a depth of several meters. Twenty-five metric tons of helium-3, about a quarter of the cargo capacity of a SpaceX Starship, would suffice to fuel all the power needs of the United States for a year.
Helium-3 finds many other uses beyond the energy sector, such as in research, cryogenics, quantum computers, MRI lung imaging, and nuclear spacecraft propulsion. It is also essential for the operation of security systems used to detect smuggling of fissile materials, which are utilized at airports and border crossing points around the world. It is worth mentioning that after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the demand for this isotope increased dramatically, as did its price.
It is estimated that 1 kg of helium-3 in nuclear fusion with 0.65 kg of deuterium will provide about 19 MW of energy throughout the year, which means that 500 kg of helium-3 can produce 5 GW of clean, ecological energy 24 hours a day for one year for a major city (3+ million inhabitants). The value of the electricity produced would exceed US$11 billion.
The helium-3 isotope is found in very small amounts in natural helium, but there is little natural helium on Earth, and furthermore, it is not economical to produce this isotope from natural helium. All of the helium-3 resources on Earth are a by-product of nuclear weapons maintenance, which can theoretically provide about 300 kg of helium-3 and thus still produce about 15 kg of helium-3 per year. The total supply of strategic helium-3 in the United States is about 29 kg, and another 187 kg has been mixed with stored natural gas - these resources are not renewable. Helium-3 is 100 million more times abundant on the Moon where it has been captured over billions of years from solar winds. Furthermore, it is a renewable resource - the solar wind is constantly depositing helium-3.
US Nuclear Corp. is an American nuclear corporation that is a spin-off of the Manhattan Project. The company acquired shares in Magneto-Inertial Fusion Technologies, Inc. (MIFTI) with which MIFTEC is affiliated. MIFTI and MIFTEC are sister companies under the same management and are developing and using the same “staged Z-PINCH fusion technology” for different applications and markets. MIFTI is developing thermonuclear fusion energy to power cities, transportation, space vehicles, military vehicles, and ships from fusion, while MIFTEC is developing a fusion-based generator for the abundant production of low-cost medical isotopes, which are currently in very short supply.
Solar System Resources Corporation Sp. z o. o. is a young, space mining company from Krakow in Poland, with the ambition to become a global American-Polish company that conducts localization and in-situ verification of space resources, and then their exploitation.