Monday, October 9, 2017

Massive Helium Field Discovered to Be Far Bigger Than Previously Thought

 A new analysis of a giant helium reservoir discovered in Tanzania last year has revealed that there may be much more of the gas than initially thought. Considering that the world is currently going through a helium shortage, this discovery could have far-reaching implications for the "life-saving" element.
 Before this analysis, it was thought that the reservoir contained at least 1.5 billion cubic metres. To put this into perspective, the United States alone used 48 million cubic metres of helium in 2016, with the country's reserves adding up to 4.3 billion cubic metres.
 The new study estimates that there could be a lot more of helium than previously thought - 2.8 billion cubic metres of the stuff. "Detailed macroseep gas compositions ... shows the deep gas to contain between 8-10 percent helium, significantly increasing resource estimates based on uncorrected values," Barry and Ballentine wrote in the abstract of the paper they presented in August at the 2017 Goldschmidt Conference.
 Other than blimps and balloons, helium is also used to cool the magnetic resonance magnets in MRI machines. Helium is also used as coolant in the Large Hadron Collider and as a component in rocket fuel and gas chromatography.
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Image Credit: Thomas Abraham-James/Helium One

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