New Helium Discovery

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New Helium Discovery

Postby vivian maxine on June 28th, 2016, 10:38 am 

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environ ... ws+stories (From BBC News)

Scientists have discovered a large helium gas field in Tanzania. The article lists the many ways helium is used. I'd not realized so many uses - even in hospitals.

This one I'll think of often: Helium-neon gas lasers are used to scan barcodes at supermarket checkouts
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Re: New Helium Discovery

Postby TheVat on June 28th, 2016, 11:48 am 

If it's a scarce gas, we probably don't absolutely need to have it for party balloons. I mean, if it's a choice between floating balloons and finding a tumor with an MRI....
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Re: New Helium Discovery

Postby vivian maxine on June 28th, 2016, 12:25 pm 

Braininvat » June 28th, 2016, 10:48 am wrote:If it's a scarce gas, we probably don't absolutely need to have it for party balloons. I mean, if it's a choice between floating balloons and finding a tumor with an MRI....


Do you mean you'd make people give up their play-dough and settle down to serious business? That's scary. :-(
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Re: New Helium Discovery

Postby Watson on June 28th, 2016, 12:39 pm 

I always thought balloons where a waste, if there was a shortage. But of coarse our intelligent fix is to charge more, rather than use less.
And isn't using the number of MRI machines filled by a volume of found H, kind of meaningless? I have no idea how much H goes into one MRI, never mind filling a million, or whatever they were comparing. Might as well said enough to service the birthday party industry for 5 years for all the informational sense it made.
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Re: New Helium Discovery

Postby SciameriKen on June 28th, 2016, 2:23 pm 

Braininvat » Tue Jun 28, 2016 3:48 pm wrote:If it's a scarce gas, we probably don't absolutely need to have it for party balloons. I mean, if it's a choice between floating balloons and finding a tumor with an MRI....



I just started a thread on this question :) If we master fusion could our Helium concerns be over? :)
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Re: New Helium Discovery

Postby vivian maxine on June 28th, 2016, 2:28 pm 

SciameriKen » June 28th, 2016, 1:23 pm wrote:
Braininvat » Tue Jun 28, 2016 3:48 pm wrote:If it's a scarce gas, we probably don't absolutely need to have it for party balloons. I mean, if it's a choice between floating balloons and finding a tumor with an MRI....



I just started a thread on this question :) If we master fusion could our Helium concerns be over? :)


If it were not so scarce, would we use so much of it? That may sound like a silly question but I'm thinking of how we value whatever is scarce. Diamonds cost more than zircons because they are rarer. It is the same with most products, isn't it?

Maybe we should be asking if there is a less rare product that will do what we use helium to do.

Just thinking.
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Re: New Helium Discovery

Postby Dave_C on June 28th, 2016, 7:42 pm 

At the moment, there are things we use helium for that only helium can be used for. Two most common are for superconducting magnets (primarily MRI machines) and for the rocket launching industry. No other gas can be used to replace helium in these applications.

The MRI industry, at least in the US, has gotten very stingy with helium. 20 years ago, they wasted the gas like it was water but today, nearly everything is captured and recycled. The first technology to minimize this waste was the 'cold head' which re-condensed helium in the MRI magnet instead of allowing it to vent after it boiled off. Helium vented during fills at the factory were also captured and re-used early on. But now even things like magnet quenches at the factory are recovered. That was a pretty big deal and very difficult to do. Imagine filling up a balloon with helium the size of your house in about 3 to 5 minutes. That's how fast the helium would be exhausted from the magnet during a quench which means these MRI manufacturers now have buildings large enough to put a ~ 40,000 cubic foot gas bag in that fills up in a few minutes. It's quite an impressive site!

The aerospace industry/rocket launching industry also uses huge quantities of helium but they are way back on the curve in recovering that gas and no one expects that situation to improve in the years ahead. In fact, for those rocket manufacturers who will remain un-named who use hydrogen for their first stage, the quantity of helium used (and vented to atmosphere) is quite high. A typical launch will have gone through upwards of 5 to 10 million SCF of helium when all testing is said and done.
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Re: New Helium Discovery

Postby vivian maxine on June 28th, 2016, 9:31 pm 

Thank you, Dave. That answers my question.
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