The Earth is running out of helium


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Doesn’t matter to me which resource gets us there, I just want ONE of them to get us to offworld mining already. How else will I live out my dreams as a private space trader?!


Commodities that are not as expensive as they should be: I think this is an idea we’ll be seeing more of in the future. Americans have gotten so used to subsidized gasoline, cheap paper, throwaway plastics, the weird market distortions are taken for granted, and we assume that any sort of environmental fix will have to work despite these market forces.


Before I looked into it (about 2 minutes ago), I thought that one thing that should happen is that there should be a ban on party balloons, but as it turns out:

this accounts for only 8% of global demand, and offers some of the highest profit margins in the market – without birthday balloons, researchers’ helium would likely cost even more.


you know i hear that there is this process… the name escapes me, and it is rather difficult to do… but isn’t one of the byproducts limitless energy and helium?

can we say Manhattan Project for Fusion!!


I seem to recall that because fracking is using a very different method of obtaining natural gas than traditional methods, the amount of helium that comes with it is a lot lower. So even as natural gas extraction goes up, the yield of helium is a lot lower.


hmm, lower in total volume or lower in relative volume? just curious. :slight_smile:


Robot mining on the moon. Awesome. But we know how that turns out, don’t we…


We’ve been dealing with a Helium-3 shortage for a few years now (mostly since an increased demand post 9/11)… Most of the He-3 comes from H-3 decay which is usually related to reprocessing weapons (darn peace dividend).
Shortages spur race for helium-3 alternatives


Well, me, I was thinking: “Hey, isn’t there a sh*tload of helium in the sun?”


I heard about this like a decade ago. I feel bad every time I get balloons for my kids birthday.



Let’s. Mine. The Sun!!
Who’s with me! We can mine at night so it’s cooler.


You sound like a hedge fund trader-- Consumers have gotten so used to paying non-luxury prices for this this and this-- if we can disrupt supply here here and here, we can make a shitload of money as everybody resigns themselves to playing our new higher prices.


Why not use hydrogen?



*inhaling deeply from a helium balloon * Oh my god that´s terrible!


Brian Malow “the Science Comedian” explains the helium problem in a fun and entertaining way in this 5-minute video from 2009:


By “the earth is running out”, you actually mean “the US is running low, because stored supplies are so cheap no one is bothering to produce any right now”.


That’s awesome!


Helium-3 actually is a renewable resource, produced by tritium decay and recovered from nuclear stockpiles. Tritium itself is manufactured by neutron bombardment of Lithium in nuclear reactors. While technically lithium is non-renewable, it is very plentiful on earth and will not be exhausted by any foreseeable level of He3 production.