Washington (UPI) Aug 23, 2010
The world is running out of helium, a resource that cannot be renewed, and supplies could run out in 25 to 30 years, a U.S. researcher says.
Nobel-prize winning physicist Robert Richardson warns that the inert gas is being sold off far to cheaply -- so cheaply there is no incentive to recycle it -- and world supplies of the gas, a vital component of medical MRI scanners, spacecraft and rockets, could be gone in just decades, Britain's The Telegraph reported Monday.
Around 80 per cent of the world's reserves are in the U.S. Southwest at the the U.S. National Helium Reserve, located in Amarillo, Texas, but a recently passed law has ruled the reserve must be sold off by 2015 regardless of market price, Britain's Independent said.
"As a result of that act, helium is far too cheap and is not treated as a precious resource," Richardson says. "It's being squandered."
Helium is created by the radioactive decay of terrestrial rock and most of the world's reserves have been collected as a byproduct from the extraction of natural gas.
Liquid helium is critical for cooling infrared detectors and nuclear reactors. The space industry uses it in sensitive satellite equipment and spacecraft, and NASA uses helium in huge quantities to purge the potentially explosive fuel from its rockets.
Despite the critical role that the gas has in modern technology, it is being depleted as an unprecedented rate and reserves could dwindle to virtually nothing within a generation, Richardson says.
"The Earth is 4.7 billion years old and it has taken that long to accumulate our helium reserves, which we will dissipate in about 100 years," he says. "One generation does not have the right to determine availability for ever."
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
Safer Plastics That Lock In Potentially Harmful Plasticizers
Washington DC (SPX) Aug 13, 2010
Scientists have published the first report on a new way of preventing potentially harmful plasticizers from migrating from one of the most widely used groups of plastics. The advance could lead to a new generation of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics that are safer than those now used in packaging, medical tubing, toys, and other products, they say. Their study is in ACS' Macromolecules, a ... read more
Scientist: World's helium being squandered|
Smartphones to make up over half of Asian sales by 2015
Japan's Panasonic to boost plasma panel output in China
"Fahrenheit 451" author burns at idea of digital books
Boeing to build Air Force satellite
First Battery Engagement Operations Center For Integrated Air And Missile Defense Battle Command System
USAF Launches First AEHF Satellite
Persistent Wireless Broadband Communications Network For The Battlefield
Arianespace Announces Launch Contracts For Intelsat-20 And GSAT 10 Satellites
Arianespace Launches Two Satellites
New Rocket Launch Period In And Around Tanegashima
Kourou Spaceport Welcomes New Liquid Oxygen And Liquid Nitrogen Production Facility
Venture Capital Fund Backs Business Opportunities From Space
Life360 Launches Real-Time Family Tracking App For iPhone
Real-Time Polar Bear News Featured On New Churchill Polar Bears Website
Hunter's iJournal Provides iPhone Users A Way To Improve Their Hunting Skills
Lightning bolts a risk for modern jets
Russian analysts assail aerial projects
US Senate legend Stevens killed in Alaska plane crash
Turkey's aerial industries prosper
Computer data stored with 'spintronics'
Protein From Poplar Trees Can Be Used To Greatly Increase Computer Capacity
Polymer Synthesis Could Aid Future Electronics
Acer, Asus and Lenovo lead pack as PC sales surge
Processing Of First TanDEM-X Data Received At Inuvik
Activity At Sakurajima Volcano Intensifies
Google photographing French streets again, minus Wi-Fi scans
Google doubles Germans' opt-out deadline for Street View
Bangladesh top court bans 'toxic' ships
China closes factories as green deadline looms
Marine Pied Piper Leads Nemo Astray
Gabonese NGO decries effects of mining
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|