Sharp Runs Out of Gas, Scales Back LCD Panel Production

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Belboz99

That industrial gas might just be Helium...

Helium is running out... fast.

The US Govt started stockpiling Helium in the 1930's and 40's in advance of a possible Blimp prorgram.  Of course, after the Hindenburg went down in flames the blimp program was scrapped, but the US Govt maintained control over the entire Helium market.

There's 2 types of Helium, He3 and He4, one is used for party balloons and such and can be found in natural gas sources.  The other is used for industrial purposes, as well as research products, and is only produced by way of creating a certain type of fuel for nuclear weapons that was discontinued in the late 1970's.

Currently, both are running out.  Word is that if Helium's price wasn't fixed by the Govt, it would cost at least 10x the current rate for Helium, both types.  The stockpiles are running low, especially because a lot of these big research projects like the LHC are consuming vast quantities of the stuff.

And Helium is used in the manufacture of LCD's, and dozens of other electronic and other-wise technological hardware.

Current prediction is that in less than 20 years, you're average helium ballon will cost $100.

And no, there's no real solution other than mining helium from the atmosphere, which costs a massive amount of money anyway.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=the-coming-shortage-of-helium-2010-06-30

According to that article, 13% of our Helium usage is on LCD's, Fiber Optics, and Food.  28% is used to cool devices like MRI machines, 26% for pressurizing and purging rockets, and 20% is used in Welding.

The US Govt set a date in 1996 that by 2015 they would completely sell-off the entire helium stockpile, with a flat fixed price.

4 years and counting.

Dan O. 

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