Helium can’t be artificially produced and is formed in natural gas wells as ancient uranium decays. The half-life of the most prevalent uranium isotope is billions of years old (older than Earth itself), so helium takes inordinate amounts of time to form.

Scientists Found a Huge Reservoir of Much-Needed Helium

The federal government stockpiles it. Scientists hoard it. Entire industries—and even lives—could end without it. In this case, the “it” in question is helium, a gas used in everything from particle accelerators to MRI machines. A dearth of helium has long been of grave concern to researchers. But today, they may just be blowing up balloons anyway: As Helen Briggs writes for BBC News, a gigantic reservoir of the in-demand gas has been discovered in Tanzania.

Over a trillion liters of helium have been found beneath Tanzania’s volcanic Rift Valley, Briggs reports. The find, which was announced at the Goldschmit geochemical conference, is a huge one: enough to fulfill the world’s demand for the gas for years to come.

It’s the first tim… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

11 thoughts on “Helium can’t be artificially produced and is formed in natural gas wells as ancient uranium decays. The half-life of the most prevalent uranium isotope is billions of years old (older than Earth itself), so helium takes inordinate amounts of time to form.”

  1. BigRed323

    Apparently the DOD has been stockpiling it for this reason. There was a podcast on it.

  2. acatinasweater

    Isn’t helium vital in medical imaging? MRI machines cooled by it ?

  3. WangnanJahad

    Plenty of Helium3 on the moon. We just need to get Sam Rockwell’s clone up there, already.

  4. El_Disclamador

    Hold up, so we suck up uranium farts so our voices get high-pitched for a short while?

  5. Empty_Detective_9660

    I’m pretty sure we make helium as a byproduct in fusion, but just not in any Practical scale due to (among other reasons) not having any Practical fusion yet, just “yep we did it” fusion.

  6. Cookiedestryr

    Ironic since it’s one of (if not the) most abundant element is the universe

  7. savehoward

    Helium conservation has been a quiet and stoic environmental cause at my university for over 20 years and still seems to remain in obscurity.

    Helium is a non renewable natural resource and cannot yet be replaced as an essential material for an MRI use. Helium prices are set by the US government low to exhaust the precious gas.

  8. Sorvick

    *Ancient Highly Complex Gas Exists*

    Humans: *I’mma huff it and sound funny.*

  9. Brittainicus

    You can produce helium through any nuclear reaction that produces alpha radiation (which is just ionized helium). You can take atoms and throw neutrons at them till you get an isotope that decays with alpha radiation path with a neutron beam, which are a fairly common and straight forward industrial process.

    It’s not cheap but it’s easily done on a large scale and could quickly producing enough helium to be useful. It will just be such a waste of money as helium is really cheap right now. But there are serious government plan to actually do this at scale when natural sources of helium run out.

  10. LeAdmin

    I didn’t even need to read the article to know your title is wrong. It can be artificially produced, we just don’t have the technology to make it financially effective at this time, primarily because helium reserves are still available at a low cost.

  11. Ta0ster

    We can fill birthday balloons with Hydrogen. They will float

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