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Helium Shortage 2019

Started by jdaniele, May 10, 2019, 02:15:21 PM

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No laughing matter
Still, scientists add, a helium shortage – which has been years in the making – is no laughing matter.

"It is a serious problem," said Roman Dembinski, an organic chemistry professor at Oakland University. "A shortage and disruption would quench our magnets, so we would be without instruments."

As helium prices surge to new highs, some researchers and companies in the medical industry, which uses the gas as a coolant in magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear magnetic resonance, are suggesting a ban on party balloons.

Helium also is used in space flight to pressurize the fuel tanks of liquid-fueled rockets, in satellite instruments, in aerospace for supersonic wind tunnels and even combined with oxygen to create nitrogen-free atmospheres for deep sea divers.

A big reason for the shortage is that about 75% of all the helium comes from just three places: Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar, ExxonMobil in Wyoming and the National Helium Reserve in Texas, according to gas-trade publication Gasworld.com.

In Texas, the reserves are being depleted, while at the same time overall demand for the gas has been growing.



QuoteEven though it is the second most abundant element in the universe, helium is rather scarce on Earth.
This does create a stock opportunity which is for another thread:

You can pay more for it, find another sourc, or wait. We did find some a few years ago.

Helium is mostly made on Earth by radioactive decay.

Can we use another gas? We can but Helium needs to be used in some situations. Helium is very commonly used in balloons so we should use something else for balloons. Here are some ways to extract other gases for balloons.

"The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." - Albert Einstein