Feb 13, 2010

Selling Off Nation's Helium Reserve is no Laughing Matter

From National Academies- Selling Off Nation's Helium Reserve Helium is used in applications ranging from medical devices such as MRIs to surveillance balloons for national security.  In the Helium Privatization Act of 1996, Congress directed the government to sell essentially all of the U.S. helium reserves by 2015.  A new report from the National Research Council finds that selling off the reserves has adversely affected critical users of helium and recommends that the federal government reconsider whether selling the reserves is still in the nation's best interest.

Considering the The United States' helium supply could be depleted in a decade, and Earth could be helium-free by the end of the century. according to an article in Science Daily. It quotes Dr. Lee Sobotka, of Washington University in St. Louis: 'Helium is non-renewable and irreplaceable. Its properties are unique and unlike hydrocarbon fuels (natural gas or oil), there are no biosynthetic ways to make an alternative to helium. All should make better efforts to recycle it.' (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a local article with quotes from Dr. Sobotka and representatives of the balloon industry.) On Earth, Helium is found mixed with natural gas, but few producers capture it. Extracting it from the atmosphere is not cost-effective. The US created a stockpile, the National Helium Reserve, in 1925 for use by military dirigibles, but stopped stockpiling it in 1995 as a cost-saving measure." (VIA-slashdot.org)
While the BoTHe Reactor might 'solve' the Peak Helium problem! I might call it the BoTHe Reactor - Boron Transformation to Helium - sounds more Alchemical (can't use the word transmutation though) and after a famous Physicist.