Breaking News
Comments
Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
David Ashton
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Helium
David Ashton   8/16/2013 8:25:29 PM
NO RATINGS
@ Polyspace...many thanks for that.  There's a big uproar here in Australia at the moment as Coal-Seam Gas (CSG) miners are running rampant all over our best farming land.  However I have never heard of them extracting helium from it.  Maybe because, as other posters have said, the price is artificially low.  If someone as big (and supposedly savvy) as the US government can't sort this out, what hope is there?

Polyspace
User Rank
Rookie
Re: Helium
Polyspace   8/16/2013 4:57:47 PM
NO RATINGS
@ David "Seriously though, where does the Helium come from?"


Helium is a byproduct of the gas/oil industry. Radioactive decay of certain isotopes in the crust produce Alpha particles which bounce around a bit until they slow down and grab a couple electrons, thus becoming Helium atoms. They tend to rise up and are trapped in pockets of natural gas.

As a child I wondered for years about 'secret fusion reactors' since we're all told that helium comes from fusing hydrogen, but no one ever knew where Earth's helium supply came from.

Duane Benson
User Rank
Blogger
Re:
Duane Benson   8/16/2013 11:36:04 AM
NO RATINGS
David - A few years ago, I read that helium is the only element that, if left to its own devices, will escape the atmosphere. The other light gases will combine with something and end up too heavy to do the same.

I'm not sure how it would work though. Even being a very light element, I would think that it would just collect at some high altitude rather than bleed off into space.

Susan Rambo
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Helium
Susan Rambo   8/16/2013 12:58:21 AM
NO RATINGS
This is a good, quick read from Popular Mechanics that says much of the same thing: articially low prices, an attempt at privatization of storage but private industry not interested. Seems like the low price at which the Federal govt. sells helium could be an enticement for industry to buy it at a low price, stockpile, and sell it at high price. Easier said than done.

Etmax
User Rank
Rookie
Re: Helium
Etmax   8/15/2013 11:12:36 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree whole heartedly with your idea of not allowing it's use in party balloons.

 

Fossil fuels however are part of a cycle. What will happen is long after we have fought our way into extinction plant life will eventually capture and store CO2 in fossil reserves so that in a million years we can find our way back into the mess we are now yet again.

Ogemaniac
User Rank
Manager
Re: Helium
Ogemaniac   8/15/2013 10:26:13 PM
NO RATINGS
What is helium "worth"?

 

It is almost unique in its non-renewability. If we mine, say, titanium or gold or phosophorus and use it, we might degrade the resource but the atoms remain here on earth. When we use helium, in contrast, if we don't deliberately recapture it and have it recycled, it leaks into the atmosphere and escapes into space. Fossil fuels share a similar "one and done" situation, but in their case, there are renewable alternatives. For many if not most applications for helium, there is no obvious or viable alternative.

All non-critical uses of helium should be banned immediately.

 

 

any1
User Rank
CEO
Re: Helium
any1   8/15/2013 4:11:02 PM
NO RATINGS
There was a good article in the Washington Post last year on this problem.  In 1996 the congress decided to get rid on the federal Helium reserve that was created (at an expense of $1.4 billion) in the 1960s.  The problem was that they priced the Helium at about half what it was worth.  That is why we can still use it for party ballons.  I guess the hope was that by now the private sector would have stepped into the breach that the  government was creating by ending the reserve.  But that hasn't happened, perhaps because if  congress changes their mind (again) and continues to sell it below cost then private industry could not make a profit. And so it goes...........

Etmax
User Rank
Rookie
Re: Helium
Etmax   8/15/2013 11:14:22 AM
NO RATINGS
Wikipedia has a good run down on it, most comes from the US as a byproduct of gas mining. It is however finite and shouldn't be used in helium balloons at parties. I think something like 10 years worth is left on current usage.

Etmax
User Rank
Rookie
Re: Sounds like we need to develop nuclear fusion
Etmax   8/15/2013 11:11:06 AM
NO RATINGS
No, I think it's easier to develop a fusion reactor than to get congress to agree on something other than their paypacket

krisi
User Rank
CEO
price
krisi   8/14/2013 9:33:21 PM
NO RATINGS
if Helium shortage is really the prices should skyrocket...are they very high?...and if they are perhaps there is an alternative technology

Page 1 / 3   >   >>


Flash Poll
Top Comments of the Week
Like Us on Facebook
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Life
Frankenstein's Fix, Teardowns, Sideshows, Design Contests, Reader Content & More
Max Maxfield

Feast Your Orbs on My Jiggly Exercise Machine
Max Maxfield
52 comments
Last weekend, I was chatting with my mother on the phone. She's all excited that I'm coming over to visit for a week in November. "I'll be seeing you in only seven weeks," she trilled ...

Glen Chenier

Missing Datasheet Details Can Cause Problems
Glen Chenier
3 comments
It is often said that "the devil is in the details." All too often those details are hidden deep within a datasheet, where you can easily overlook them. When a datasheet reference circuit ...

David Blaza

RadioShack: The End Is Nigh!
David Blaza
123 comments
I'm feeling a little nostalgic today as I read about what looks like the imminent demise of RadioShack, at least as we currently know it. An old ubiquitous cartoon image popped into my ...

Larry Desjardin

Engineers Should Study Finance: 5 Reasons Why
Larry Desjardin
47 comments
I'm a big proponent of engineers learning financial basics. Why? Because engineers are making decisions all the time, in multiple ways. Having a good financial understanding guides these ...