Helium 3

Topics: Nuclear fusion, Nuclear fission, Nuclear power Pages: 5 (1378 words) Published: April 7, 2013
Muhammet Raşit Akben KUTLUK ÖZGÜVEN 09.01.2012
Science and Technology


As we know, helium is a lightweight and non-radioactive isotope of helium with two protons and one neutron. Also it sometimes called ‘tralphium’. According to many experts, helium-3 can be a clean nuclear power. There are many benefits of helium-3 but the most important problem is that there is very little helium-3 available on the Earth. First of all, I will give general some information about helium-3 isotope.

Name, symbol| Helium-3, 3He, He-3,3He|
Neutrons| 1|
Protons| 2|

Helium-3 is sought for use in nuclear fusion. As we know, all nuclear power plants use a nuclear reaction to produce heat. This is used to turn water into steam that then drives a turbine to produce electricity. Current nuclear power plants have nuclear fission reactors in which uranium nuclei are split part. This releases energy, but also radioactivity and spent nuclear fuel that is reprocessed into uranium, plutonium and radioactive waste which has to be safety stored, effectively indefinitely.


‘The nuclear fuel cycle is the series of industrial processes which involve the

production of electricity from uranium in nuclear power reactor’. 

For many years, scientist have been working to create nuclear power from nuclear fusion rather than nuclear fission. In the nuclear fusion reactors, the hydrogen isotopes tritium and deuterium are used as the fuel, with atomic energy released when their nuclei fuse to create helium and a neutron. This nuclear fusion does not produce the radioactivity nuclear waste that is the by-product of current nuclear fission power generation. However, the so-termed "fast" neutrons released by nuclear fusion reactors fuelled by tritium and deuterium lead to significant energy loss and are extremely difficult to contain. Many scientist think that solution can be to use helium-3 and deuterium as the fuels in "aneutronic" (power without neutrons) fusion reactors. The involved nuclear reaction here when helium-3 and deuterium fuse creates normal helium and a proton, which wastes less energy and is easier to contain. Nuclear fusion reactors using helium-3 could therefore provide a highly efficient form of nuclear power with virtually no waste and no radiation. PAGE 3

This diagram explains how works nuclear fusion

→ In 1989 Nasa published the manifesto about helium-3. Their article’s name is ‘The importance of helium-3 for the future’. In the manifesto, there are many benefits of helium-3

1) increased electrical conversion efficiency
2) reduced radiation damage to reactors;

3) reduced radioactive waste;

4) an increased level of safety in case of an accident;

5) the lower cost of electricity;

6) the shorter time to commercialization

PAGE 4 → According to Gerald Kulcinski, who has been the Associate Dean for Research for the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2001. ‘ Dr Kulcinski thinks that Helium-3 gas can be the second generation source in the future. He says, helium-3 is very rare indeed on the Earth. As we know, Helium-3 is produced as a by-product of the maintenance of nuclear weapons, which could net a supply of around 15Kg a year. But on the moon, quantities of helium-3 is very high. They predict...

References: 1) http://www.asi.org/adb/02/09/he3-intro.html
2) http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf03.html
3) http://www.nasa.gov/offices/nac/members/kulcinski-bio.html
4) http://www.thespacereview.com/article/536/1
5) http://www.archive.org/details/nasa_techdoc_19900006527
7) http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/series/moon/why_go_back.html
8) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3
9) http://www.explainingthefuture.com/helium3.html
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