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Lunar Source of 3He for Commercial Fusion Power

L. J. Wittenberg, J. F. Santarius, G. L. Kulcinski

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 10 / Number 2 / September 1986 / Pages 167-178


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An analysis of astrophysical information indicates that the solar wind has deposited an abundant, easily extractable source of 3He onto the surface of the moon. Apollo lunar samples indicate that the moon's surface soil contains ∼109 kg of 3He. If this amount of 3He were to be used in a 50% efficient D-3He fusion reactor, it would provide 107 GW(electric)-yr of electrical power. The energy required to extract 3He from the lunar regolith and transport it to earth is calculated to be ∼2400 GJ/kg. Since the D-3He reaction produces 6 × 105 GJ of energy per kilogram of 3He, the energy payback ratio is ∼250. Implications for the commercialization of D-3He fusion reactors and for the development of fusion power are discussed.

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