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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Tonnes of Helium 3 discovered in the moon

version: 1 / created: 2009-10-19
id: #200 / version id: #200
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Tuomo Kuosa
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Last changed by: Tuomo Kuosa
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 5 - Energy

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Knowledge for energy policy-making

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Tonnes of Helium 3 discovered in the moon

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
Mineral samples from the moon contain abundant quantities of helium-3, a variant of the gas used in lasers and refrigerators. The moon is thought to hold tonnes of helium 3 which may solve Earth's energy crisis. A potential gas source found on the moon's surface could hold the key to meeting future energy demands as the earth's fossil fuels dry up in the coming decades. According to Lawrence Taylor, a director of the US Planetary Geosciences Institute, "When compared to the earth the moon has a tremendous amount of helium-3," "When helium-3 combines with deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen) the fusion reaction proceeds at a very high temperature and it can produce awesome amounts of energy. "Just 25 tonnes of helium, which can be transported on a space shuttle, is enough to provide electricity for the US for one full year." Helium-3 is deposited on the lunar surface by solar winds and would have to be extracted from moon soil and rocks. Dr Taylor says 200 million tonnes of lunar soil would produce one tonne of helium. Only 10 kilograms of helium-3 are available on earth. Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam has told the International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon that the barren planet held about 1 million tonnes of helium-3. "The moon contains 10 times more energy in the form of helium-3 than all the fossil fuels on the earth," Mr Kalam said. However, Dr Taylor says that the reactor technology for converting helium-3 to energy is still in its infancy and could take years to develop. "The problem is that there is not yet an efficient type of reactor to process helium-3," he said. "It is currently being done mostly as a laboratory experiment. Right now at the rate which it (research) is proceeding it will take another 30 years." Helium 3 can be used in fusion reactors of the future


Helium 3; moon energy; fusion; energy crisis; space transportation

Signal's first apperance


Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Energy crisis may be solved. Moon mining may become profitable new/emerging
very beneficial

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

A break through in fusion technology may be needed. Sources:http://www.technologyreview.com/advertisement.aspx?ad=energy&id=60&redirect=%2FEnergy%2F19296%2F%3Fa%3Df http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3 http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200411/s1252715.htm


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Level 4: important for the whole world