The worldwide supply shortage of helium will continue in the future, and the risk of depletion in 25 years will also be

ByMark J P

Speaking of helium gas, a balloon that floats in the air or a gas that is familiar soon to come to think of "Donald Duck Voice" which increases voice when inhaling, but it is also an important material used in semiconductor manufacturing and medical equipment. However, helium is currently in a state of short supply worldwide, and it seems that there is a danger that the trend will become stronger in the future.

Global helium shortage in prospect as US reservoir in line to close next month | Science |

Earth's helium reserves 'will run out within 25 years' | Mail Online

National Helium Reserve - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

heliumAre light, chemically extremely stable after hydrogen, and are substances having the lowest boiling point, so they are widely used as industrial materials such as levitation gas and coolant. Helium is the second abundant element in the universe, next to hydrogen, but on the earth it contains only 0.0005% in the atmosphere and it is extremely difficult to collect from the air, so generally it is natural gas production It is collected as a by-product of time and refined.

Helium storage is the largest in the United States, stocking approximately one-third of the world's storage, accounting for about 80% of the world's commercial helium production. Helium in the United States is stockpiled in the US federal helium reservoir of Amarillo, Texas. This facility opened in 1925 was operated for the purpose of supplying gas for airships at the time, but as the cold war with the Soviet Union intensified and the space development competition progressed, the US government strategically made its stockpiling The quantity has been increased. However, as the debt of the US government increased in the 1990's when the Cold War was over, the law (Helium Privatization Act of 1996) was established enacting the sale of all of the helium stockpiled in excess, except for some, to private enterprises, In 2015 we sold all the stockpiles and we decided to close the US federal helium reservoir. Unless the US Congress decides to prolong the facility's life, the production of helium by the US government is scheduled to end on 7th October.


Companies that purify and sell helium have already begun to raise prices in anticipation of the closure of the US Federal Helium Storage. According to GE Healthcare, which uses helium to manufacture MRI, last year the spot price of pressurized liquid helium, which was 8 dollars per liter, has soared from 25 dollars to 30 dollars, so that the Nobel Prize in Physics Professor Robert Richardson of Cornell University who won the prize expects a party balloon to be 65 pounds (about 10,000 yen).

While the supply of helium is tapering according to the decision of the US government, the demand for helium in emerging countries is on the rise, the amount of helium supply is currently nearly consistent with the demand amount and there is no supply capacity is.

Demand for emerging countries will increase

For this reason, helium will suffer shortage of supply as soon as supply anxiety due to accidents and strikes occurs at the helium plant in the world. For example, last autumn, the periodic repair of the world's largest helium plant owned by Exxon Mobil Corp. was lengthened and the restart of operation was delayed, resulting in shortage of helium supply in Japan.

At Tokyo Disney Land, balloon sales are suspended since November 21, 2012

The demand for helium in manufacturing industries of emerging countries, especially those in fast-growing Asian countries, will continue to increase, and the amount will be expected to be 300 million cubic meters a year by 2030 (the production volume in 2012 will be about 180 million cubic meters ). The world's helium reserves are about 7 billion cubic meters,If it is consumed at the current pace, it will be depleted after 25 years in terms of calculationIt will be. Like petroleum which has been said to be exhausted in the next 40 years from decades ago, helium is also worried about depletion, but whether it will be "prolonged" by technological progress or not will be worried in the future .

· Continued
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