From: ILPI Support <info**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Cost of liquid helium
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:42:15 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: ED744F4C-2EBC-407F-B1C0-71FEF361FC3C**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <010901d0de9a$96762780$c3627680$**At_Symbol_Here**>

Correct, helium is *essentially* a non-renewable resource.  Once a molecule of helium gets into the atmosphere, it escapes to space because its mass is not sufficient to keep it on earth.  Hydrogen also escapes our planet.  For a discussion of the physics behind molecular escape velocities see's_Chem1/06._Properties_of_Gases/6.5%3A_More_on_Kinetic_Molecular_Theory and

Helium is commercially extracted from incredibly non-porous pockets in the earth's crust - places where natural gas is found.  Because of variable and low concentrations, helium is not even recovered from most gas wells (except for swaths of Texas which are a third of the world's supply) and it is lost when we burn natural gas.  I'd have to imagine fracking is not helping the situation.   The way our economy works, the market will not step up to do anything about this loss until it's "economically viable" to recover helium from the less-rich sources meaning  when we need it most and are running out, only then will the market step up to do anything about it.  Hence the idea of a strategic helium reserve (link below).

However, radioactive decay of thorium and uranium in the earth's crust is continually making new alpha particles = helium nuclei.  I am hard-pressed to find an authoritative estimate on how much helium is produced by uranium decay, but one number I saw was 3,000 tons a year.  That amount is spread over the entire Earth's crust and remember it has to be trapped in a cavity that is incredibly non-porous.  Given that uranium has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, we may be depleting our supply at unsustainable rates..  If I actually had free time, one could calculate the actual number based on the amount of uranium in the crust, I suppose.  

Here's an interesting fact sheet:

And for consideration of the global market:
Rob Toreki

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On Aug 24, 2015, at 2:27 PM, Carole Savoie <carole.savoie**At_Symbol_Here**POLYMTL.CA> wrote:

Isn't it because helium gets rarer?
Carole Savoie, Ph..D. chimie | Conseill=E8re principale en sant=E9 et s=E9curit=E9 / Responsable de la radioprotection | Secteur sant=E9 et s=E9curit=E9
=C9cole Polytechnique de Montr=E9al| Pavillon principal, local A-429.19.1 | C.P. 6079, succ. Centre-ville, Montr=E9al, Qu=E9bec, Canada, H3C 3A7
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De : Trimmer, Philip [mailto:TrimmerP**At_Symbol_Here**WLU..EDU] 
Envoy=E9 : 24 ao=FBt 2015 14:06
=C0 : DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU
Objet : [DCHAS-L] Cost of liquid helium
Hello.  I am hoping for a reality  check.  What are you all paying for 60 liters of liquid helium?   I thought prices were to begin falling a couple years ago.  Ours just went to $2300.
Am I  being scammed? 

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