FUEL CELLS forum: Fusion Fuel and mining for Helium-3... in space.

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Jun 3, 2011 6:52 PM CST
Name: Susie
Phoenix AZ
Fusion fuel. Fusion physics.

Project Icarus is a five year study to launch an unmanned spacecraft to travel to a nearby star, interstellar travel.

This is a small summary of what I read in this really interesting article from Discovery.com. I’m more interested in the application of such energy as an Earth bound resource. Though it seems it could be a really challenge to “contain”.

Hydrogen is a fusion fuel. It causes fusion propulsion. It fuses very, very slowly making it a very difficult fusion fuel to utilize. (think, Fuel Cell) “But, there’s an answer: Add a neutron to the single proton in the heart of every hydrogen atom and you have deuterium, also known as “heavy hydrogen”.

Pure deuterium was used in the first hydrogen bomb detonated in 1952. Deuterium reactions are very hot and the heat must be gotten rid of or the engine device is degraded quickly.

However, there is a very attractive reaction between deuterium and a light isotope of helium known as helium-3. Helium-3 has one less neutron than regular helium (helium-4) and is also produced in the sun and almost as quickly consumed in fusion reactions as deuterium.

Helium-3 was known to have been on the Earth but it’s long since blown away. (interesting thought).

But! It can be found in the “Gas Mines” of Uranus. (I’m not being funny).

Read more here:

image by Adrian Mann

Thumb of 2011-06-04/Aguane/c37909
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