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The new huge Helium discovery is a life saving find and a game changer.

Stashed in: Ecology!, Awesome, Balloons!, Medicine, Ecology, Geology, Geology!, Imzy

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We were running out of helium by 2100 but now we have found more of it!

Helium doesn’t just make your voice squeaky.

Helium is critical to many things we take for granted, including MRI scanners in medicine, welding, industrial leak detection and nuclear energy.  However, known reserves are quickly running out. Until now helium has never been found intentionally – being accidentally discovered in small quantities during oil and gas drilling.

Now, a research group from Oxford and Durham universities, working with Norway-headquartered helium exploration company Helium One, has developed a brand new exploration approach. The first use of this method has resulted in the discovery of a world-class helium gas field in Tanzania.

Their research shows that volcanic activity provides the intense heat necessary to release the gas from ancient, helium-bearing rocks. Within the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley, volcanoes have released helium from ancient deep rocks and have trapped this helium in shallower gas fields. The research is being presented by Durham University PhD student Diveena Danabalan at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Yokohama, Japan.


Professor Chris Ballentine, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, said: 'We sampled helium gas (and nitrogen) just bubbling out of the ground in the Tanzanian East African Rift valley. By combining our understanding of helium geochemistry with seismic images of gas trapping structures, independent experts have calculated a probable resource of 54 Billion Cubic Feet (BCf) in just one part of the rift valley. This is enough to fill over 1.2 million medical MRI scanners. To put this discovery into perspective, global consumption of helium is about 8 BCf per year and the United States Federal Helium Reserve, which is the world’s largest supplier, has a current reserve of just 24.2 BCf. Total known reserves in the USA are around 153 BCf. This is a game changer for the future security of society’s helium needs and similar finds in the future may not be far away.'

It's a game changer:

From the Imzy comments of APeacefulWarrior I learned that Helium is an utterly non-renewable resource. 

And, of course, it's lighter than air. Once we've used it up - or even made too many mining mistakes that set it free from underground pockets - it's truly gone forever.

Barring massive advances in molecular synthesis, anyway.


[Balloons are] Incredibly wasteful. Given that there's a serious danger we're going to run out of the stuff by 2100 or so at current usage (even with this new find) I find it amazing that the governments aren't doing more to restrict its usage. But at least there are growing numbers of experts calling for such restrictions.

I did a little googling out of curiosity, and couldn't find any precise numbers on how much helium is lost due to balloons, but it's kind of a common-sense thing. It's far too important in tech\medical work to be wasting it, even if that waste were to be relatively small. Once it's gone, it's gone forever.

Well then I will not be buying more helium balloons.

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