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Author Topic: Where does Helium come from?  (Read 2574 times)

Offline geo driver

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Where does Helium come from?
« on: 20/02/2013 04:38:27 »
having a brain storm..... where is He normaly found, and can it be extracted from organic matter.

Changed Subject to a question.
« Last Edit: 20/02/2013 10:50:58 by evan_au »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: He
« Reply #1 on: 20/02/2013 04:43:53 »
Helium?

It is normally found as a radioactive decay product (alpha particles), and can be found in natural gas mines.

Very little free helium is found on the surface of the planet or in the atmosphere.

Since the Alpha particle has 2 neutrons, 4He is relatively common.  3He is quite rare.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Where does Helium come from?
« Reply #2 on: 20/02/2013 10:55:53 »
Helium does not react chemically with organic compounds (or practically anything else), so it is not retained in organic substances.

It's very small molecules atoms quickly leak out of balloons, so helium-filled balloons don't stay aloft for very long.
The geological structures which trap natural gas can also trap Helium.

Worldwide Helium consumption is increasing, but supply is not keeping up, so prices are going up.

Correction: Thanks, BC
« Last Edit: 21/02/2013 10:52:13 by evan_au »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Where does Helium come from?
« Reply #3 on: 20/02/2013 19:16:22 »


It's very small molecules quickly leak out of balloons, so helium-filled balloons don't stay aloft for very long.


Helium molecules: cool!
 

Offline cheryl j

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Re: Where does Helium come from?
« Reply #4 on: 22/02/2013 04:35:09 »
There was actually a sign in the drug store last summer that due to the shortage of Helium, they were no longer selling helium balloons.I thought, isnt half the matter in the universe helium? How are we running short?
 

Offline bizerl

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Re: Where does Helium come from?
« Reply #5 on: 22/02/2013 05:25:54 »
There was actually a sign in the drug store last summer that due to the shortage of Helium, they were no longer selling helium balloons.I thought, isnt half the matter in the universe helium? How are we running short?

I don't think we're quite at the stage where we can just reach in to the nearest star and grab some helium. And if we tried to utilise it directly from the source, our balloons would pop!  :o
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Where does Helium come from?
« Reply #6 on: 22/02/2013 08:00:26 »
There was actually a sign in the drug store last summer that due to the shortage of Helium, they were no longer selling helium balloons.I thought, isn't half the matter in the universe helium? How are we running short?

The problem is that Earth can not hang onto the lighter molecules, Hydrogen (H2), and Helium (He), and perhaps Neon (Ne), so any that is released into the atmosphere eventually gets lost in space.  Water vapor might be a problem too, but it tends to condense in the upper atmosphere.

There is plenty of helium in the sun, but we don't have the technology to scoop it up.

There is also plenty of helium in Jupiter, but it would be extraordinary expensive to collect.

Helium is used in a variety of tasks from diving to welding to refrigeration, often without a good substitute.  As a "limited resource", I'm not convinced that it should be used in party balloons.  However, very few of the natural gas mines are also refining the helium, presumably due to lower concentration.  It is possible that the supplies of helium would eventually be exhausted whether or not it is used in party balloons due to poor conservation efforts.
 

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Re: Where does Helium come from?
« Reply #6 on: 22/02/2013 08:00:26 »

 

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