Helium 3

Helium 3
Helium 3 Facts
 Helium-3 (He-3) is a light, non-radioactive isotope of helium with two
protons and one neutron.
 It has an atomic mass of 3.0160293 amu.
 It is highly used in the cryogenic industry as well as Neutron Detection
Helium 3 Production
 Helium 3 is made by the beta decay of tritium
1T → 2He1+ + e− + νe
 Beta decay is a type of radioactive decay in which a beta particle (an
electron or a positron) is emitted.
 One way Tritium is produced is by neutron activation of the Lithium-6 ion.
 The half life of Tritium is about 12.33 years.
Helium 3 Applications
 Helium 3 is devoted to security purposes, because the gas is extremely
sensitive to neutrons, like those emitted spontaneously by plutonium.
 Helium 3 is also used in the Cryogenics fields, since it can reach
temperatures of about 0.3 to 0.2 Kelvin.
Helium 3 Controversy (I)
 The growth of Helium 3 have been slowed since the production of Tritium
was ceased in the late part of the 1980’s.
 Currently the production of Helium 3 is about 8,000 liters per year.
 It is expected that the US will need about 76,000 liters by 2010.
Helium 3 Controversy (II)
 Russia have supplied Helium-3 to the USA from 2006-2008 at a rate of
about 25,000 liters per year.
 Many industry experts consider the shortage of Helium-3 a disaster, since
it helps on the detection of illegal smuggling of radioactive materials.
Helium 3 Future
 The Obama administration have resume making bomb-grade tritium at one
civilian nuclear plant.
 Obama's 2010 budget includes funds for the Tennessee Valley Authority to
expand tritium-production to a second nuclear plant.
 For the time being, it will be really difficult to obtain this valuable and rare
Works Cited
 http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-04/helium-3-shortage-
 http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/helium-3-shortage-could-
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3

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