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Boron Supply

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 9:48 pm
by Isochroma

If Polywell ever reaches commercialization, this is where your fuel will be coming from.

"This mine is the largest open pit mine in California, and the largest borate mine in the world, supplying more than half of the world's borates, and it employs over 800 people. The mine and refinery complex was established in the late 1920's, after a large source of borax was discovered here. Prior to this time, borax was mined out of Death Valley and hauled to the railway at Mojave by the famous "20-mule team." This mine consists of a 500 feet deep pit more than a mile long by one half mile wide. The substances obtained from the borates extracted from this deposit are used in numerous products, from soaps to jet fuels. Boron in particular is an element that has many applications in aerospace and military technologies. It is a component in high-strength fiber composites and in rocket fuels."

Note that this mine is located in the USA, not Saudi Arabia...

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 9:54 pm
by Isochroma
Unfortunately, even though the US has the largest mine, Turkey has the largest reserves:

"Turkey and the United States are the world's largest producers of boron. Turkey has almost 72% of the world’s boron potential and boron reserves.[5] Boron does not appear in nature in elemental form but is found combined in borax, boric acid, colemanite, kernite, ulexite and borates. Boric acid is sometimes found in volcanic spring waters. Ulexite is a borate mineral that naturally has properties of fiber optics.

Economically important sources are from the ore rasorite (kernite) and tincal (borax ore) which are both found in the Mojave Desert of California, with borax being the most important source there. The largest borax deposits are found in Central and Western Turkey including the provinces of Eskişehir, Kütahya and Balıkesir.

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:15 pm
by Isochroma
From the 2007 US Geological Survey: ... nmcs07.pdf



Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:29 pm
by MSimon
Even with only ~20% of the worlds boron the USA supplies are good for 10,000 years.

Ocean extraction is also feasible.

Who knows what we will find in the asteroid belt.

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:36 pm
by Isochroma
Maybe time for the US government to stop exporting and start stockpiling. Also, I'll be watching the USGS data very carefully for any odd increases in Chinese imports of Boron and its compounds. An unusal increase might indicate stockpiling for fusion purposes.

Even now it seems insane that such huge amounts of future fuel are being ruined by incorporation into glass. What a waste of such a valuable resource.

Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:48 pm
by MSimon
There is plenty in the ocean if the need arises and energy is cheap enough.

Even if the Chinese were buying 1,000 tons a year no one would notice.

Suppose with all the uses we only have enough for 1,000 years. That is enough cushion to work out the next phase.

And yeah. When I first looked into it I had the same reaction. But think of where our technology will be in 100 years. Who can imagine what 1,000 years will bring?

Think of it: the whole USA energy supply would use on the order of 1,000 tons a year of boron. Not a lot.