The ONLY proven He fields are scattered below the TX Permian Basin hard rock layers with natural gas and oil.
But worse, Helium is the ONLY chemical that cannot be replaced: Once vented to the atmosphere as a gas, He rises to the top of the atmosphere naturally and irreversibly, (because, of course, it is lighter than air) and then diffuses to space.
Unlike Argon, Nitrogen, Hydrogen, Oxygen or even Krypton, the lost He cannot be recovered or replaced. It cannot be “manufactured” or chemically separated except in H-bombs and nuclear reactions.
It is gone.
Spot on comment. If you need a superconducting environment you need low temperature. Liquid helium is about it. At the university I work at we spent big bucks setting up recycling of the boil off. Looked like fools when He is cheap, but pretty prudent now.
Someone will probably talk peak helium but it actually may have merit in this case.
At the Amarillo Helium Reserve, by 1995, a billion cubic metres of the gas had been collected, and the reserve was $1.4 billion in debt, prompting Congress to begin phasing out the reserve in 1996. The resulting “Helium Privatization Act of 1996” directed the Department of the Interior to start selling off the reserve by 2005.
By 2007, the federal government was reported as auctioning off the Amarillo Helium Plant. The National Helium Reserve itself was reported as “slowly being drawn down and sold to private industry.” However by early 2011, the facility was still in government hands. In May 2013, the House of Representatives voted to extend the life of the reserve under government control.
It is also considered a “mined” product.
Helium can be used in welding. It is my understanding the navy requires a pure helium gas for certain ship building. It used to be considered a strategic material. No idea about today.
“...Helium is the ONLY chemical that cannot be replaced: Once vented to the atmosphere as a gas, He rises to the top of the atmosphere naturally and irreversibly, (because, of course, it is lighter than air) and then diffuses to space....”
Sounds like evil styrofoam and CO2...
They are heavier than O2 but, somehow find themselves in quantities manufactured by man, in our atmosphere
Thanks for the post. That makes complete sense.
Here's some additional information (article from 2015):