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Helium - We're Running Out & It Is NOT Cheap Stuff After All by FieroGT42
Started on: 07-28-2011 12:03 AM
Replies: 27
Last post by: BlackEmrald on 07-28-2011 05:13 PM
FieroGT42
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Report this Post07-28-2011 12:03 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FieroGT42Click Here to Email FieroGT42Send a Private Message to FieroGT42Direct Link to This Post


Helium, sure. That's cheap enough to fill party balloons with! Well, it shouldn't be! When we run out, it will cost 10,000 times as much to extract it from air. And it isn't just helium. We're running out of a LOT of resources, many of which are not renewable and have exorbitant costs that are masked until it's too late.

I thought this was pretty funny at first. Now I think it's pretty scary. Given that we need it for things like MRI machines, what other technologies will we come up with in the future that might require helium? We all need to be a lot more conscious of how much of everything we waste every single day because you never know what we might wish we had in the future. No, really.

http://www.physorg.com/news201853523.html

 
quote
PhysOrg.com:

A renowned expert on helium says we are wasting our supplies of the inert gas helium and will run out within 25 to 30 years, which will have disastrous consequences for hospitals and industry.

Professor of physics, Robert Richardson from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, won the 1996 Nobel prize for his work on superfluidity in helium, and has issued a warning the supplies of helium are being used at an unprecedented rate and could be depleted within a generation.

Liquid helium is vital for its use in cooling the superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. There is no substitute because no other substance has a lower boiling point. Helium is also vital in the manufacture of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and fiber optics.

In MRI scanners the helium is recycled, but often the gas is wasted since it is thought of as a cheap gas, and as such is often used to fill party balloons and as a party trick distorting people's voices when it is inhaled.

Professor Richardson warned the gas is not cheap because the supply is inexhaustible, but because of the Helium Privatisation Act passed in 1996 by the US Congress. The Act required the helium stores held underground near Amarillo in Texas to be sold off at a fixed rate by 2015 regardless of the market value, to pay off the original cost of the reserve. The Amarillo storage facility holds around half the Earth's stocks of helium: around a billion cubic meters of the gas. The US currently supplies around 80 percent of the world's helium supplies.

Richardson said it has taken 4.7 billion years for the Earth to accumulate our helium reserves, which we will have exhausted within about a hundred years of the US's National Helium Reserve having been established in 1925. The reserve is a collection of disused underground mines, pipes and vats extending over 300 km from north of Amarillo into Kansas. He warned that when helium is released to the atmosphere, in helium balloons for example, it is lost forever.

There is no chemical way of manufacturing helium, and the supplies we have originated in the very slow radioactive alpha decay that occurs in rocks. It costs around 10,000 times more to extract helium from air than it does from rocks and natural gas reserves.

Helium is the second-lightest element in the Universe. Among helium's other uses include airships, air mixtures used in deep-sea diving, cooling nuclear reactors and infrared detectors, and in satellite and spacecraft equipment, and solar telescopes. NASA also uses massive amounts of helium to clean fuel from its rockets, and because the helium is so cheap, it makes no effort to recycle the gas. As the isotope helium-3, helium is also used in nuclear fusion research.

Professor Richardson was co-chair of a US National Research Council inquiry into the coming helium shortage. The report recommends the US reconsider its policy regarding selling off the helium.

© 2010 PhysOrg.com

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Formula88
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Report this Post07-28-2011 12:07 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Formula88Send a Private Message to Formula88Direct Link to This Post
Peak Helium!!

Just use a Hybrid MRI scanner. It's slower and doesn't give the promised results, but it uses less Helium.
What are YOU doing to reduce YOUR Helium footprint?
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skuzzbomer
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Report this Post07-28-2011 12:17 AM Click Here to See the Profile for skuzzbomerSend a Private Message to skuzzbomerDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Formula88:

What are YOU doing to reduce YOUR Helium footprint?


*cough* I guess I should stop smoking the party favors?
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ray b
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Report this Post07-28-2011 12:59 AM Click Here to See the Profile for ray bClick Here to Email ray bSend a Private Message to ray bDirect Link to This Post
it is the second most common element in the universe

and we know how to make it
we just need to get to breakeven
and Helium the waste product of fusion will be cheap

------------------
Question wonder and be wierd
are you kind?

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FriendGregory
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Report this Post07-28-2011 01:20 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FriendGregoryClick Here to Email FriendGregorySend a Private Message to FriendGregoryDirect Link to This Post
I worked on Mass Spectrometers and helium is required in them to slow down the ions. We had to check for leaks too often, showing me that all supplies should have a map of where the distribution lines go. We kept checking manufacturing and the leak was in engineering.
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maryjane
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Report this Post07-28-2011 01:55 AM Click Here to See the Profile for maryjaneSend a Private Message to maryjaneDirect Link to This Post
Sounds like a great, (albeit somewhat speculative) investment opportunity is about to avail itself.

ARG or Air Products anyone?
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Marvin McInnis
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Report this Post07-28-2011 02:23 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Marvin McInnisClick Here to visit Marvin McInnis's HomePageSend a Private Message to Marvin McInnisDirect Link to This Post
Maybe ... maybe not. There are natural gas wells in the field stretching from the Texas panhandle to southwestern Kansas with so much helium in the gas that it will not burn. Increasing natural gas exploration and production means more helium production, too. The problem for the short term is storing all the excess helium extracted from natural gas before it goes into the pipelines. I'm confident, though, that we (or the Chinese) will surely find a way to waste it all.
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MJ
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Report this Post07-28-2011 02:24 AM Click Here to See the Profile for MJSend a Private Message to MJDirect Link to This Post
Helium is very common in welding gas mixtures, I believe in some plasma cutting operations too.
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spud321x
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Report this Post07-28-2011 04:55 AM Click Here to See the Profile for spud321xClick Here to Email spud321xSend a Private Message to spud321xDirect Link to This Post
A balloon is filled with Helium, and a couple of days later the thing is laying on the floor about empty. Where does that Helium go? Does it leak through the balloon into the atmosphere? Or does it just disappear?
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MidEngineManiac
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Report this Post07-28-2011 06:39 AM Click Here to See the Profile for MidEngineManiacSend a Private Message to MidEngineManiacDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Formula88:

Peak Helium!!

Just use a Hybrid MRI scanner. It's slower and doesn't give the promised results, but it uses less Helium.
What are YOU doing to reduce YOUR Helium footprint?


I just replace the helium I use with the Methane I produce
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Formula88
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Report this Post07-28-2011 08:53 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Formula88Send a Private Message to Formula88Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by spud321x:

A balloon is filled with Helium, and a couple of days later the thing is laying on the floor about empty. Where does that Helium go? Does it leak through the balloon into the atmosphere? Or does it just disappear?


It leaks out and floats away.
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Report this Post07-28-2011 08:54 AM Click Here to See the Profile for twofatguysClick Here to Email twofatguysSend a Private Message to twofatguysDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Professor Richardson warned the gas is not cheap because the supply is inexhaustible, but because of the Helium Privatisation Act passed in 1996 by the US Congress. The Act required the helium stores held underground near Amarillo in Texas to be sold off at a fixed rate by 2015 regardless of the market value, to pay off the original cost of the reserve. The Amarillo storage facility holds around half the Earth's stocks of helium: around a billion cubic meters of the gas. The US currently supplies around 80 percent of the world's helium supplies.


Go Congress!! Really, go.

Brad
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jaskispyder
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Report this Post07-28-2011 09:11 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jaskispyderSend a Private Message to jaskispyderDirect Link to This Post
Congress is stupid, but nothing new.
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Stubby79
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Report this Post07-28-2011 10:18 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Stubby79Send a Private Message to Stubby79Direct Link to This Post
Hmm...I'd better go buy a bottle and sell it to retire in 30 years.
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Report this Post07-28-2011 10:45 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PyrthianClick Here to Email PyrthianSend a Private Message to PyrthianDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ray b:

it is the second most common element in the universe

.....



while that maybe true - how much of the Universe is available to us to mine....?

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Report this Post07-28-2011 10:51 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FrugalFieroDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Marvin McInnis:

I'm confident, though, that we (or the Chinese) will surely find a way to waste it all.





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Report this Post07-28-2011 11:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for XysterSend a Private Message to XysterDirect Link to This Post
Is this article also assuming that helium leaves the atmosphere since it won't react with other elements and become weighed down?

On a positive note, childrens balloons filled with hydrogen could be fun! Like little Hindenburgs at a 5 year olds b-day party!
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Report this Post07-28-2011 11:47 AM Click Here to See the Profile for ZebSend a Private Message to ZebDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ray b:

it is the second most common element in the universe

and we know how to make it
we just need to get to breakeven
and Helium the waste product of fusion will be cheap



Heium is an element. How do we make helium?

And how did we wind up with so much, if it can't be collected somehow?
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Formula88
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Report this Post07-28-2011 11:50 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Formula88Send a Private Message to Formula88Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Zeb:


Heium is an element. How do we make helium?

And how did we wind up with so much, if it can't be collected somehow?


We don't "make" He in the since of a refinement or chemical compound.
We recover existing He from underground stores.
He can be "made" from Alpha particle decay from Uranium and Thorium (and some others). As those particles decay, they bond with free electrons to form He. The He we recover from underground is the result of this process.
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Report this Post07-28-2011 12:26 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tesmith66Send a Private Message to tesmith66Direct Link to This Post
There is a crapload of it at the center of our universe. Just have to find a way to get it...
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Report this Post07-28-2011 12:40 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ryan.hessClick Here to Email ryan.hessSend a Private Message to ryan.hessDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by spud321x:

A balloon is filled with Helium, and a couple of days later the thing is laying on the floor about empty. Where does that Helium go? Does it leak through the balloon into the atmosphere? Or does it just disappear?


Rubber is a very porous storage vessel, especially to "smaller" atoms like Hydrogen and Helium....
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Report this Post07-28-2011 12:53 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Marvin McInnisClick Here to visit Marvin McInnis's HomePageSend a Private Message to Marvin McInnisDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Stubby79:

I'd better go buy a bottle and sell it to retire in 30 years.



In 30 years your bottle will probably be empty. Helium will diffuse through almost any barrier. It's quantum behavior is unlike any other matter, especially at very low temperatures.


 
quote
Originally posted by MJ:

Helium is very common in welding gas mixtures, I believe in some plasma cutting operations too.



It's mostly argon or argon mixtures these days.


 
quote
PhysOrg.com:

Liquid helium is vital for its use in cooling the superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. There is no substitute because no other substance has a lower boiling point.



Advances in superconducting materials continue, and will eventually obviate the need for extremely low temperatures. The "holy grail" is to achieve room-temperature superconductivity in cheap and easy-to-manufacture materials. The research labs are rapidly closing in on that goal, but superconducting electrical wires, including long-distance transmission lines, are probably still far in the future.

[This message has been edited by Marvin McInnis (edited 07-28-2011).]

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ray b
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Report this Post07-28-2011 01:33 PM Click Here to See the Profile for ray bClick Here to Email ray bSend a Private Message to ray bDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Zeb:


Heium is an element. How do we make helium?

And how did we wind up with so much, if it can't be collected somehow?


when an hydrogen bomb goes off it fuses hydrogen into helium
they are trying to use fusion in a reactor to make power now
the waste product of hydrogen fusion is helium
we can make helium out of hydrogen now
but it takes more power in then they can get back out

that is the same power source thar runs our sun
the sun is making helium as it shines

[This message has been edited by ray b (edited 07-28-2011).]

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htexans1
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Report this Post07-28-2011 03:18 PM Click Here to See the Profile for htexans1Click Here to Email htexans1Send a Private Message to htexans1Direct Link to This Post
Great. Just as I have some important Atom smashing to do, and my cyclotron goes on the blink.
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Nurb432
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Report this Post07-28-2011 04:11 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Nurb432Send a Private Message to Nurb432Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by tesmith66:

There is a crapload of it at the center of our universe. Just have to find a way to get it...


If there is actualy a center.


Isn't Helium used in chip manufacturing too?
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Cheever3000
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Report this Post07-28-2011 04:29 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Cheever3000Send a Private Message to Cheever3000Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by ryan.hess:

Rubber is a very porous storage vessel, especially to "smaller" atoms like Hydrogen and Helium....



And here I was just thinking I should fill up my tires with helium, to lighten the truck and thus reduce gas consumption.
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Report this Post07-28-2011 04:35 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Nurb432Send a Private Message to Nurb432Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Cheever3000:


And here I was just thinking I should fill up my tires with helium, to lighten the truck and thus reduce gas consumption.


It didnt work on mythbusters
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Report this Post07-28-2011 05:13 PM Click Here to See the Profile for BlackEmraldClick Here to Email BlackEmraldSend a Private Message to BlackEmraldDirect Link to This Post
This sounds alot like most other "We are running out of x natural resource!!!!!!" articles.

I don't put much stock in whistleblower articles like these.
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