Helium-3 is an obscure substance that may be the fuel of tomorrow. It is used in a process called nuclear fusion that creates massive amounts of energy with little fuel introduced. Current fusion produces tons and tons of nuclear waste per year. Scientists hope that fusion done with Helium-3 will leave small to no waste. Highly limited amounts of Helium-3 on earth makes testing difficult, however, findings show that the moon is abundant with this nuclear material.
By the middle of the next century, the world's population will double, and energy demand will triple, due to the industrialization and economic growth of developing nations. Continued use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) will rapidly deplete these limited and localized natural resources. There is, perhaps, another 50-100 years supply of oil and natural gas, and enough coal for several hundred years. Burning these fossil fuels threatens to irreparably harm our environment. On the other hand, the prospect of successful nuclear fusion technology promises virtually unlimited energy, with very little danger. A potential fusion fuel source has been discovered in a very unusual place, the moon. Mineral samples brought to earth from several moon expeditions reveal abundant quantities of an unusual substance scarce on earth, helium-3. This obscure substance could hold the key to meeting future energy demands.
Most people are familiar with the material helium. It is the gas that puts lift in birthday balloons, makes voices shrill, and keeps the Good Year blimp afloat. Helium-3, a cousin of helium, may not be as familiar. Helium-3 is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium. An isotope is any form of a chemical element, having the same number of protons in the nucleus, or the same atomic number, but having different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus, or different atomic weights. There are 275 isotopes of the 81 stable elements, in addition to over 800 radioactive isotopes. Every element...