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Helium shortage might be solved by new existence-saving discovery

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Helium shortage might be solved by new existence-saving discovery

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Researchers might finally have overcome a worldwide lack of helium – potentially saving countless lives along the way.

Helium would be better referred to as gas that keeps party balloons in mid-air and makes people’s voices squeaky. However the gas’s very low boiling point enables it for everyone a variety of other important reasons – being answer to MRI scanning devices for medicine and nuclear power.

Lack within the live-saving gas had therefore panicked researchers who worried that people might go out. The only method to discover the gas continues to be accidentally – turning up while drilling for gas and oil – and if it’s discrete in to the atmosphere it floats up and into space.

The risk had brought doctors to require a ban on how to use helium for frivolous pursuits like party balloons, so that they can conserve it. The cost of helium has increased 500 percent previously fifteen years as scientists find it difficult to find much more of it.

However a group from Oxford and Durham Colleges makes an enormous discovery in Tanzania which has created a completely new method of finding helium. Dealing with Norwegian firm Helium One, the researchers found a “world-class” helium gas field in Tanzania.

The gas is discovered using the same expertise from gas and oil exploration to consider how helium was produced subterranean, so that they can understand where it might accumulate. They discovered that volcanic activity offers the immeasureable heat that is required to push the gas from ancient, helium-bearing rocks.

The researchers found the brand new field within the Tanzanian East African Rift Valley, where volcanoes push helium from deep rocks and into shallower gas fields.


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The field probably has 54 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in just one part – enough to fill 1.2 million MRI scanners – according to the researchers. We use about 8Bcf per year, and the world’s largest helium supplier holds only 24Bcf.

Professor Chris Ballentine from the University of Oxford’s department of Earth sciences said: “This is a game changer for the future security of society’s helium needs and similar finds in the future may not be far away.”

The find is a vital way of replenishing the supply, said professor Jon Gluyas from Durham University’s department of Earth sciences. “We have to keep finding more, it’s not renewable or replaceable,” he said.

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