Reply from Eric Griffin:
I am familiar with several mining of helium-3 from the moon schemes. The Chinese have also put forward a plan for a similar plan with the same goal of getting helium-3 from the moon.
My approach is to use desktop fusion methods to combine deuterium and hydrogen to produce helium-3 and large amounts of electricity. I think this is possible with existing technology in the near term as there exists inexpensive bench top equipment for fusing hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes. I am confident that with minimal modifications this could used to produce large amounts of helium-3 in an economical way.
Certainly this is vastly less expensive than anything that involves even orbital launch and recovery let alone round trips to the moon and back. So my basic opinion is that, as it is energetically favorable to fuse deuterium and hydrgen to produce helium-3, this is likely to be the most practical path to getting helium-3 for energy production.
Although I would like to see lunar exploration for a lot of other reasons I doubt if even this will provide the extrodinary motivation needed for long term lunar colonization. Perhaps the mega corps and government bureaucrats are too clueless to pick up on this and will decide to go to the moon anyway.
Somehow I doubt it though. More likely we will burn oil and coal until it is so expensive that renewable sources are directly cost competitive.
That is my basic take and as I am studying physics at Berkeley and specializing in energy production I am up on the very latest fusion and fission techniques.
I suspect a lot of the faculty would disagree with me but they are always living in pie in the sky land so they can get the next round of grants. I am very pragmatic in my approach so I cut right to the chase and design solutions from first principles. In this case it costs a lot of energy to go to the moon.
In contrast, fusing deuterium and hydrogen produces energy. Based on the simple equation of energy in versus energy out the latter approach is dramatically more energy effient and the developement cost is orders of magnatude lower.
Of course my approach has a lot less curb appeal. It is far more likely to get off the ground and actually provide useful amounts of helium-3.
Nothing I have said is particularly provocative or a trade secret. All of the core information is publicly available in the patent literature, press or journal articles. The basic problem is always the same: Getting the corporate hegemony, academia and politicians to support something that doesn't provide immediate gratification to their existing interests in a way that builds directly on their current context and mind set.
Its like laying a honey trail for ants. If they aren't tasting something sweet for themselves every inch of the way they loose interest, wander off the path and go back to what they were doing before.