Thursday, June 30, 2016

Helium Problem Solved

The article says helium is derived from natural gas. This is incorrect. As one of the noble gases He doesn't react with much of anything so more correctly helium can be found in proximity to methane.
From OilPrice:
There’s a global helium shortage. It’s not among the widely publicized problems of the world, but there is undoubtedly a helium deficit – the noble gas that most of us associate with party balloons and funny squeaky voices.

Outside parties, helium is essential in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) because it helps to cool the machine’s superconductive magnets. It is also invaluable in the space industry to clean rocket engines, keep satellite tools cool, and to pressurize the inside of rockets running on liquid fuel. It’s also used to condense hydrogen and oxygen and turn them into rocket fuel.

Even a thing as simple as a barcode reader in a supermarket has helium in it.

Reserves, however, are not exactly abundant – helium is traditionally derived from natural gas in moderate quantities. Now, with growing use in medicine and space, helium reserves are dwindling and replacement is difficult. But a new exploration approach has revealed a potentially huge deposit of the noble gas in Tanzania, raising hopes that the shortage can be dealt with.
A team from Oxford and Durham universities, who worked with Norwegian exploration firm Helium One, recently announced they had come across a deposit of helium in Tanzania’s Rift Valley. Reserves in this deposit may be as much as 54 billion cubic feet (bcf) and possibly even more. Global annual consumption of helium is around 8 bcf.

The team focused their attention on volcanoes in the Rift Valley and studied seismic images of gas-trapping rock formations—that is, they tried to find helium away from gas deposits. The research showed that volcanic activity produces sufficient heat to release helium from rock formations and trap it in deposits nearer the surface of the earth....MORE
Previously in squeaky voices news:
May 2012
: "... America’s Helium Crisis"
Dec. 2012
Helium prices balloon as supplies run out
"GE, Siemens Plead with Lawmakers to Preserve Federal Helium Reserve"
April 2013
Chemistry: Periodically, We Tell Element Jokes