Issues of the Environment: Global Helium Shortage

Nov 13, 2013

In this week's installment of Issues of the Environment, WEMU's David Fair looks into the global helium shortage. 

Helium tanks at the Large Hadron Collider, one of the places that relies upon the inert gas.
Helium tanks at the Large Hadron Collider, one of the places that relies upon the inert gas.
Credit Wikimedia Commons / Leo Koivulehto

To help us better understand helium gas, it's uses and the potential ramifications of running out of this non-renewable resource, David spoke with Eastern Michigan University Chemistry Professor Dr. Gregg Wilmes.


Overview

  •   Helium gas is a natural and non-renewable resource that cannot be manufactured, and scientists warn that helium reserves could run out in a couple decades at the current rate of depletion.
  • Old legislation which discouraged helium recycling left the United States facing a critical shutdown of the helium reserve in 2013 that could have stymied the medical, defense, aeronautical, and electronics manufacturing industries.