Quarter 2 Project: Science Today
Title of Article: Why is There a Helium Shortage?
Date of Publication: June 25, 2012 12:06 PM
Authors Qualifications: The author needs to be qualified in chemistry to be able to talk about the element helium and its issues going on right now with supplies of it.
Noteworthy: This article is noteworthy because helium is the second most abundant element in the universe and it is becoming harder to come by. The federal government recently raised helium prices by $8.25. The price of helium now after the price spike is $84.00 per Mcf (One thousand cubic feet). The price spike, along with other federal policies, is threatening to create a shortage in helium. A shortage in helium would be very bad for the world because helium is used for many different things all around the earth. Helium may be the second most abundant element in the universe, but most of it in earth’s atmosphere bleeds off into space. Today, the US creates 75% of the world’s helium. Almost half of that (about 30%) of the world’s helium supply comes from the US Federal Helium Reserve. This reserve is near Amarillo, Texas. But the US Federal Helium Reserve is in danger also. The helium production rates are going down and the reserve could produce helium for only about 5 or 6 more years. This is obviously a big deal.
Evidence: As I said in the noteworthy section, helium is the second most abundant element in the whole universe. The US produces 75% of the world’s helium. But about 30% of the world’s helium comes from the US Federal Helium Reserve near Amarillo, Texas. This reserve may only be able to produce helium for another 5 or 6 years. This means other countries around the world that purchase helium from the US will lose much of their helium supply. The US legislation in 1996 said that the US needed to pull out of the helium business. Also by 2015 when the reserve was sold, the legislation hoped there would be new sources of helium. None of these things have happened...