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View Diary: And We’re Running out of Helium (39 comments)

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  •  First off, corr: (2+ / 0-)
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    kurt, scotths

    I wrote "natural gas" several times where I meant to write "helium" above.  But I think you know what I meant.

    Is the situation now so dire that we have to stop giving kids helium balloons or can we bring this under control by forcing industrial users to engage in recycling?

    Here's a graph of our current uses of helium; use as a lifting gas is in "other".  So it's pretty small.  Plus, party balloons can switch from helium to diluted mixtures and still work fine for their intended role.  You can also add about 9% hydrogen to an inert gas mixture without posing a risk for combustion upon release under any conditions.  So, for example, a mixture of about 1% water vapor, 30% helium, 9% hydrogen, and 60% nitrogen should still lift off sufficiently for its use (water vapor is a lifting gas, too, but the air can't hold that much of it -- even nitrogen is a (very minor) lifting gas).

    The key really lies in having a higher price for helium.  Consumption will pick where to recycle and where to cut back as a consequence.

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