(The Conversation Canada) The world is currently experiencing its third major helium shortage in the past 14 years, putting science and industry at risk. Helium is a key gas used in industries like space exploration, health care and technology. While everyone is familiar with helium’s use in party balloons, the lighter-than-air element has many more important uses in semiconductor manufacturing, medical imaging and other technological applications.
Helium is generated deep underground by the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium over geological timescales. It gets trapped in non-porous rock formations. The only way to find helium is to drill exploration wells deep into the subsurface.
Scientists are facing a number of new challenges to get a reliable supply of helium for their research programs. The shortage has consistently raised helium prices; research applications like gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy take a backseat to helium needs in health care. = Continue Reading – Click Here =
(This article was first published at The Coversation Canada: www.theconversation.com)