Skip to comments.British academic: Ban party balloons (helium filled)
Posted on 12/13/2012 5:58:00 AM PST by chessplayer
The scarcity of helium is a really serious issue. I can imagine that in 50 years time our children will be saying, I cant believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons, said the doctor, Peter Wothers.
The non-renewable gas is a necessity in hospitals, where it is used to cool magnets in MRI scanners and mixed with oxygen to allow ill patients and newborn babies to breathe more easily.
Scientists have been unsuccessful in finding a sustainable way of making the gas artificially.
If we keep using it for non-essential things like party balloons, where were just letting it float off into space, we could be in for some serious problems in around 30 to 50 years time. The gas is hugely valuable.
Helium? Do you mean the waste product of a fusion reactor?
Puleeese Peter, give it a rest.
I would think that Aire Liquide would have a ceramic that would seperate it out. Probably can’t get the volume needed though.
There are only eight wells in the US that produce Helium and I cannot figure out why Congress decided to open up sales. It just does not make a whole lot of sense because it is definitely a national security material.
Anyone have some insight into this?
What an idiot. Helium is cryogenically distilled from natural gas.
“I would think that Aire Liquide would have a ceramic that would seperate it out.”
Should read “I would think that Aire Liquide would have a ceramic filter that would seperate it out.”
Right. Thanks for playing, Mr. “Academic.” Now, get off the stage, and no... Johnny Olsen doesn’t have a parting gift for you.
should read “..separate..”
Let the free market decide. If demand for helium is so strong, the price will go up accordingly. And while someone with a medical need will pay whatever’s charged, no one — except maybe a limousine liberal — will pay $95 for a party balloon.
This guy doesnt understand economics. The more uses for something the cheaper and more available it gets. Aluminum was one of the most expensive and rare elements on the planet until the government decided it wanted lightning rods on public buildings to be made from aluminum. (This was, at the time, like ordering lightning rods made from gold.) This created a market and chemists immediately invented processes to produce material to fill that market. Unlike gold, aluminum is the most common metal in the Earths crust. Market/use = cheap/abundance.
This mans thinking is typically liberal. If you use something you use it up; therefore it must be regulated by the government. In reality, the more you use something the more there is of it. Take oil. In 1960 alarmists said wed be completely out of oil by 1970. In 1970 there were more reserves known than in 1960. So, they moved the date to 1980, then 1990, then 2000. Each decade saw more known reserves. Now, we know that oil is produced by biological processes near the earths core, not fossil bones (see link below.) Even if that werent the case, a market for oil would mean somebody would invent a process to come up with oil. (The Nazis did; coal to oil.)
Looks like U.S. helium reserves could be empty in as little as 5-7 more years.
It is a serious issue.
What right does Congress have to regulate sales of helium? Or anything else for that matter ...
Remember the National Helium Reserve? The boondoggle that was costing taxpayers $1.4 billion? The one that was established to ensure that the US airship fleet had an adequate supply?
It was privatized. As well it should have been.
[in a high, squeaky voice] “No, you can’t do that!”
A quote from the article:
“On July 1, 1925, the government assumed control of all helium production in the nation.”
“should read ..separate..”
Thanks. I can never remember whether there is or is not “a rat” in “separate”.
There is a rat...I will have to write that on the chalkboard 100 times now.
There are only a very few wells in world that contain Helium. You cannot get if from almost all wells.
Parties, too. Ban parties.
And happiness. Ban happiness.
People. Ban people.
Only if there is an available source for it. While greater demand creates a price support for the economic supply of a material, it has to be available for that to happen.
There are very few sources of Helium in the world.
“Why the world is running out of helium”
“A US law means supplies of the gas a vital component of MRI scanners are vanishing fast”
“Helium Supplies Endangered, Threatening Science And Technology”
No, not really. True, tere is a limited amount on this planet. And it’s all still here except for the trivial amounts we’ve used in space craft.
As otheres have stated, there are helium wells and filtration systems for that found via natural gas wells (About 7%). The economics will drive other processes.
As an example, atmospheric liquidation at some point would be an economically viable means of recovery. The atmosphere is 0.00052% Helium... That’s a lot of Helium.
And to top it off, it’s the 2nd most common element in the universe behind hydrogen.
So it’ not serious. THe solar wind is lousey with it and if desparate enough an economic case for a space based capture system will be made.
THe guy’s whining.
Parties, too. Ban parties.
And happiness. Ban happiness.
People. Ban people.
By all means lets use it up so hospitals can no longer use MRI machines. A kids party balloon is a much more important use for it. And happiness is impossible without have a helium filled party balloon. sarc/
I went to buy balloons for a birthday party and was told they (Safeway) no longer have them, because the US government controls all helium and is restricting supplies.
The clerk said it is just to complicated to buy the gas, so they stopped (at that store at least).
Are you trying to claim that 7% of natural gas wells have economically recoverable quantities of helium? If I understood that correctly, please provide some more information.
The atmosphere is 0.00052% Helium... Thats a lot of Helium.
And most of that, is in the far upper atmosphere called the heterosphere, about 100 kilometers above the surface. Not very accessible for a ground based separation facility.
Should we toil at drudgery, day in and day out, only to have machines artificially keep us alive so that we can scrabble another root or tuber from a barren, lifeless landscape? What is the point of life without laughter, or happiness, or contentment?
Can you possibly be so jaded that you don't consider the QUALITY of life, more than just the number of days of a bleak, forbidding, horrific and joyless existence? Is it better to live more swiftly in an Eden, then it is to live a few more months in a gray, bleak, hopeless Gulag?
So run a hose.
There are loads of wells that produce small amounts of helium. Mostly in New Mexico. The problem is the economics of separating and capturing it. This process is spreading, e.g., to Kansas and Oklahoma, as the price increases.
Of course, if you want loads of helium, just build a space elevator.
It is my studied opinion that balloons filled with H2O are way more fun than those filled with any gas; well maybe not any gas, acetylene in balloon and a flame source are fun, too.
How apt. :)
You have no idea of the power of the Party Balloon.
Interesting sequential postings...
That is not an inconsequential problem. Using cryogenics to separate out helium require cooling down to below -346°F where the nitrogen condenses out of the gas remaining after the methane condensed out at -260°F
You can see that Helium is also a waste product from upgassing as well. If the price dictates, that helium will be captured from those processes and sold...so it isn’t just certain wells that contain it, but also the byproduct from upgassing.
Don't forget Rage Monkeys
I'm sure Mitsubishi will be making it soon...from hydrogen. (see current thread)
The amount of helium found in various natural gas deposits varies from almost zero to as high as 4% by volume. Only about one-tenth of the working natural gas fields have economically viable concentrations of helium greater than 0.4%.
Helium can also be produced by liquefying air and separating the component gases. The production costs for this method are high, and the amount of helium contained in air is very low. Although this method is often used to produce other gases, like nitrogen and oxygen, it is rarely used to produce helium.
When the gas contains more than about 0.4% helium by volume, a cryogenic distillation method is often used in order to recover the helium content.
That requires extreme cryogenic temperatures. Very few wells have economic recoverable amounts.
If we do switch to hydrogen for ballons, the Macy Parade may get a lot more attention in news coverage, although live attendance may drop off in future years.
At the risk of getting completely off topic, that is one of those words I stumble over. I once wrote a book report on 'A Separate Peace' in which I misspelled 'separate' everytime. I now remember it by likening it to the word 'pare', where they both can mean to cut apart. I have no idea if they share a similar etymology, but it works for me.
A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling
by Mark Twain
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter “c” would be dropped to be replased either by “k” or “s”, and likewise “x” would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which “c” would be retained would be the “ch” formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform “w” spelling, so that “which” and “one” would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish “y” replasing it with “i” and Iear 4 might fiks the “g/j” anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez “c”, “y” and “x” — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais “ch”, “sh”, and “th” rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
That was thirty five years ago.
“Kids; how many times have I said to keep the balloons AWAY from the candles on the birthday cake”
Did those guys from Monty Python have their homeland pegged or what?
Same type of moron that thinks we are using up all the water.