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Why The World Is Running Out Of Helium  
User currently offlineTheCommodore From Australia, joined Dec 2007, 2759 posts, RR: 8
Posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 4106 times:

This is a serious situation and one that needs urgent attention.

Why would the US government stipulate such a thing ?

"The law stipulates that the US National Helium Reserve, which is kept in a disused underground gas field near Amarillo, Texas - by far the biggest store of helium in the world - must all be sold off by 2015, irrespective of the market price."

And more craziness,

"The law stipulated the amount of helium sold off each year should follow a straight line with the same amount being sold each year, irrespective of the global demand for it. This, according to Professor Richardson, who won his Nobel prize for his work on helium-3, was a mistake. "As a result of that Act, helium is far too cheap and is not treated as a precious resource," he said. "It's being squandered."

Seems very silly to me. This gas plays a vital roll in so many of our everyday uses, it needs to be protected and fast !

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/n...ticle.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10668231


Flown 905,468 kms or 2.356 times to the moon, 1296 hrs, Longest flight 10,524 kms
19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8942 posts, RR: 40
Reply 1, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 4033 times:

Never heard of this, but in about four years, the problem (if there really is one) should fix itself.


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineAF340 From Canada, joined Jul 2007, 2786 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3989 times:

Helium can be produced using fractional distillation of Natural Gas. New sources of helium-rich Natural Gas are being tapped in Canada, Poland, Algeria, and Russia. We are not running out.


There are far more pressing issues than the price of Helium (yes I know of its medical uses) in today's world.

I think I'll go buy a balloon...


User currently offlinefrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3738 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3927 times:

Just why exactly isn't Helium treated and traded just like any other commodity? What are the government's interests in keeping the price down?


Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineTheCommodore From Australia, joined Dec 2007, 2759 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 3903 times:

Quoting francoflier (Reply 3):
Just why exactly isn't Helium treated and traded just like any other commodity? What are the government's interests in keeping the price down?

I can't find any reference to new Helium production on the net, do you have any links you can share ?

Another interesting article on said matter is this.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080102093943.htm



Flown 905,468 kms or 2.356 times to the moon, 1296 hrs, Longest flight 10,524 kms
User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 5, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 3860 times:

Quoting TheCommodore (Reply 4):
Quoting francoflier (Reply 3):
Just why exactly isn't Helium treated and traded just like any other commodity? What are the government's interests in keeping the price down?

I can't find any reference to new Helium production on the net, do you have any links you can share ?

1930s and WWII. It was considered a strategic material and natural gas production was close to being restricted to the USA so the only reserves were "considered" to be in the US as production was mainly from Texas and Oklahoma although at that time fact the main reserves were at Medicine Hat in Manitoba.

http://www.gov.mb.ca/stem/petroleum/shales/helium_lake_manitoba.pdf

They did not want those Zeppelins cruising around filled with helium did they? But at least one US airship was shot down by a U-boat.

He is much more widely distributed in natural gas than was thought even through to the 50s. Iit is still a minor component even in He rich gases but up to 8% He has been reported.


User currently offlinefrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3738 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3836 times:

Quoting TheCommodore (Reply 4):
I can't find any reference to new Helium production on the net,

The wiki article on He states that the US alone has proven natural reserves of He of about 147 billion cu.ft. However the estimated but yet unproven resources from natural gas could be 1000 that figure.

Granted, those are unrenewable resources, and it will eventually run out, but I doubt it will run out in 30 years as mentioned in the article.

Who knows, one day we might be extracting it from the moon surface, along with He3 for our fusion plants...

(I read too much sci fi)



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineGST From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2008, 930 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 3817 times:

Quoting PPVRA (Reply 1):
Never heard of this, but in about four years, the problem (if there really is one) should fix itself.

How so? When it takes billions of years to naturally produce a meaningful quantity of helium, and there is no way to synthetically produce it in meaningful quantities also? Four years is a very short time for it to fix itself, even shorter by the time the issue is bumped sufficiently up the issues list, if that even happens).

Quoting AF340 (Reply 2):
New sources of helium-rich Natural Gas are being tapped in Canada, Poland, Algeria, and Russia.

We have other sources and probably will find new reserves, but selling off the material stored at rates greater than reasonable demand is not going to help the sitiuation.

Quoting AF340 (Reply 2):
We are not running out.

Of course we are, It is non renewable and un-producible. We ARE running out, the question is are we sensible enough to draw out the resources as long as possible to give the boffins time to develop alternative technologies to replace it?


User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 8, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3789 times:

Quoting GST (Reply 7):
Of course we are, It is non renewable and un-producible. We ARE running out, the question is are we sensible enough to draw out the resources as long as possible to give the boffins time to develop alternative technologies to replace it?

Expect a NASA plan to mine helium on the sun to receive approval any day now from the T party. Well it stands about as much chance as controlled energy transfer from nuclear fusion.


User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8942 posts, RR: 40
Reply 9, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 3669 times:

Quoting francoflier (Reply 3):
What are the government's interests in keeping the price down?

It probably doesn't have any interest in keeping the price down, but when you have such a huge supply on hand that you are just sitting on it (i.e., it's not available) and you don't want to hold it any more, selling it will impact the price.

Quoting GST (Reply 7):
How so? When it takes billions of years to naturally produce a meaningful quantity of helium, and there is no way to synthetically produce it in meaningful quantities also? Four years is a very short time for it to fix itself, even shorter by the time the issue is bumped sufficiently up the issues list, if that even happens).

Because they will be done dumping all that extra supply, which is keeping prices artificially low.



"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlineAF340 From Canada, joined Jul 2007, 2786 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3622 times:

Quoting GST (Reply 7):
Of course we are, It is non renewable and un-producible. We ARE running out, the question is are we sensible enough to draw out the resources as long as possible to give the boffins time to develop alternative technologies to replace it?

No we're not. You can still take helium out of air. Admittedly this is by no means a cheap or particularily practical extraction method, but it can and is being done.

See Here...


User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39703 posts, RR: 75
Reply 11, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 3604 times:

If this is true, how will people make funny helium voices like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-XbjFn3aqE



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19415 posts, RR: 58
Reply 12, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3569 times:

23% of the baryonic mass in the universe is helium.

How can we be running out?


User currently offlinearniepie From Belgium, joined Aug 2005, 1265 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3545 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 12):
23% of the baryonic mass in the universe is helium.

How can we be running out?

23 or 93% doesn't matter at all, the volume readily available on earth might be limited or very difficult to extract.
Most common thing in the universe is hydrogen ,which could also be a very useful Gas, but that too is difficult to come by on the earth , you'll have to use lots of energy to extract it either from water or one of the fossil fuels.



[edit post]
User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2009 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3443 times:

Quoting GST (Reply 7):
Of course we are, It is non renewable and un-producible

The helium supply on Earth is being partially renewed by continuing radioactive decay (though at what rate I don't know). Universally, the quantities of helium are increasing and hydrogen decreasing.  



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineTheCommodore From Australia, joined Dec 2007, 2759 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3441 times:

Quoting allrite (Reply 14):
The helium supply on Earth is being partially renewed by continuing radioactive decay (though at what rate I don't know). Universally, the quantities of helium are increasing and hydrogen decreasing.

My understanding is that it takes 1,000's of years to form/make helium.

"Helium is made either by the nuclear fusion process of the Sun, or by the slow and steady radioactive decay of terrestrial rock, which accounts for all of the Earth's store of the gas. There is no way of manufacturing it artificially, and practically all of the world's reserves have been derived as a by-product from the extraction of natural gas, mostly in the giant oil- and gasfields of the American South-west, which historically have had the highest helium concentrations."



Flown 905,468 kms or 2.356 times to the moon, 1296 hrs, Longest flight 10,524 kms
User currently offlineoffloaded From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2009, 871 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 3361 times:

Quoting Baroque (Reply 5):
the main reserves were at Medicine Hat in Manitoba

Must be a heck of a lot of helium in Medicine Hat if it is now in Manitoba. It used to be 200 miles SE of Calgary in Alberta.



To no one will we sell, or deny, or delay, right or justice - Magna Carta, 1215
User currently offlineNoWorries From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 539 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3321 times:

Quoting offloaded (Reply 16):
Must be a heck of a lot of helium in Medicine Hat if it is now in Manitoba. It used to be 200 miles SE of Calgary in Alberta.

Could be ... all of that Helium along with Bullwinkle's Upsidasium mine ...


User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 18, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 3 days ago) and read 3229 times:

Quoting offloaded (Reply 16):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 5):
the main reserves were at Medicine Hat in Manitoba

Must be a heck of a lot of helium in Medicine Hat if it is now in Manitoba. It used to be 200 miles SE of Calgary in Alberta.

Ooops, that is what I thought, should have read the Manitoba document more carefully. I was absorbed wondering what the distance from their granites was to the reservoirs and wondering if the Big Lake and Burley gases have ever been tested for He as they are the closest to really hot granites that I know. But most of their heat is coming from radio potassium rather than U. Must pay more attention and tick off Google for giving me Manitoba when I asked it about Medicine Hat!


User currently offlineNorthStarDC4M From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 2992 posts, RR: 37
Reply 19, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3106 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
CHAT OPERATOR

Of course if the world gets fusion power sorted out... no more helium shortages, we'll be making the stuff the way the sun is right now.


Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
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