Reports have been floating around that China has coincidentally approved three new moon missions after finding a new crystal-like mineral that could prove critical for future energy production.
There’s even a new name for the new mineral which was gathered on lunar soil: Changesite-(Y)
International Mineralogical Association has approved the name of a new mineral (Changesite 嫦娥石) discovered in the Chang’e-5 lunar soil one day before the Mid-Autumn Festival #CNSA pic.twitter.com/oprBGkwhBC
— Yuqi Qian (@YuqiiQian) September 9, 2022
That was announced at the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) just a few days ago. It is believed that the samples in which this mineral was found are 1 Billion years older than other samples gathered by previous missions from the USA and the Soviet Union.
China is the third country to discover a new Lunar mineral, and to be fair, nothing has happened on that topic for the past 40 years. Still, that’s a historic achievement.
All of this is nice, but what’s the energy angle? Well, this new mineral is said to contain Helium 3, a form of Helium almost non-existent on Earth that could be extremely valuable in the context of Nuclear Fusion energy.
Without diving too deep into the details, Helium 3 could be an ideal fuel for nuclear fusion because it would yield a lot of energy without emitting as much radiation that may harm the reactor.
The potential abundance of Helium-3 on the moon is not new, and so is the idea of mining the moon, which China has floated since 2014. Such a prize could spark a space race back to the moon, and that’s why you have heard more about “returning to the moon” in recent years.
This discovery might have helped define what to look for and where to start mining. In his “Helium-3 Power Generation” article, Christopher Barnatt mentions that a Space Shuttle’s worth of Helium could power the entire USA for one year, thus worth the tremendous cost of space mining.
While this opens incredible perspectives, nuclear fusion is not yet near operational despite significant progress in the past few years. Researchers working on Fusion reactors have managed to lengthen the stability of nuclear fusion, and there’s a chance it could work and positively change the world in the not-too-distant future.