Take a deep breath – why the world is running out of helium

– Not entirely sure if I’ve written on this subject before.   But, if I had money to invest, I can think of three areas where I’d probably focus myself.   Helium, Lithium and the Norwegian Kroner.

– The first two because they are chemical elements and they have unique properties that nothing else can duplicate and they are here in earth in finite amounts and our demand for them is rising.  And looks strongly like it will continue to rise.

– We know where virtually all of the Helium is on Earth is and, as the article documents, we are not conserving it very well while our need for it looks to continue to rise indefinitely.   A good bet, I’d say.

– Lithium is coming into its own because it is an essential ingredient in the zillions of batteries we are soon going to be needing and using for cars; among other things.   Bolivia has a bunch of it and the world’s major corporation are in a lather to get their hands on it.   And Bolivia’s people’s president, is having the audacity to say that the profits and benefits of mining and selling the stuff should accrue to the Bolivian people (can you imagine?).  The CIA took Allende down for far less cheek than this.   Now they are saying that vast amounts of Lithium have been discovered in Afghanistan.  That should prove interesting.

– And then Norwegian Kroners.  Well, the Norwegians are just about the only ones who’ve had vast oil wealth fall on their head that haven’t rushed out to build the world’s tallest building for the country’s ego or a personal ski-jump for each of their citizens.

– Instead, they’ve created one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds and then had the audacity to invest it ethically.  An investment that is beating a lot of countries investing in crap.   If I was looking for a stable currency to hold, my money would be on the Norwegian Kroner.

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It is the second-lightest element in the Universe, has the lowest boiling-point of any gas and is commonly used through the world to inflate party balloons.

But helium is also a non-renewable resource and the world’s reserves of the precious gas are about to run out, a shortage that is likely to have far-reaching repercussions.

Scientists have warned that the world’s most commonly used inert gas is being depleted at an astonishing rate because of a law passed in the United States in 1996 which has effectively made helium too cheap to recycle.

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.

The experts warn that the world could run out of helium within 25 to 30 years, potentially spelling disaster for hospitals, whose MRI scanners are cooled by the gas in liquid form, and anti-terrorist authorities who rely on helium for their radiation monitors, as well as the millions of children who love to watch their helium-filled balloons float into the sky.

– More…

One Response to “Take a deep breath – why the world is running out of helium”

  1. We do not know where virtually all of the Helium is on Earth is. Such helium as is now being mined is being mined as a byproduct of natural gas extraction.

    Maybe there has been some prospecting for deposits of helium without regard for natural gas?

    Anti-terrorist authorities who rely on helium for their radiation monitors rely on a different kind of helium, helium-3. It is made, not mined. “HELIUM – 3 DISTRIBUTION IN WESTERN TURKEY”, Nilgün Güleç, Mineral Res. Expl. Bull., 108. 35 42.1988 says,

    “Since U and Th are mostly concentrated in the continental crust relative to mantle and little 3He is retained in the crust, continental crust is enriched in 4He …”

    to seven or eight nines (99.99999 to 99.999999 percent).

    (How fire can be domesticated)