What will happen when we run out of helium to mine?

Background: I read in another answer that helium “comes from underground gas pools – so any that does escape to the atmosphere is gone forever; some estimates say we will run out within 20-30 years” (http://greenanswers.com/q/183257/pollution-toxins/chemicals/does-escaped-helium-balloons-hurt-environment#194130).



  1. 0 Votes

    There is no substitute for helium for really cold applications, including (such as I understand it) MRI devices. So unless we can devise some other technology, we have a problem. Hydrogen substitutes for helium in some cases, but of course hydrogen is highly flammable. More info at the link.

  2. 0 Votes

    Helium has many applications in science, so running out of it could be very devastating. Liquid helium is used as a cooling agent for nuclear reactors and MRI equipment, and its gaseous form is used to pressure fuel tanks in space shuttles. Great potential lies in a rare isotope of the element (helium-3) because scientists are trying to turn it into fuel for fusion reactions; success in this area could provide a “clean, virtually infinite power source.”

    The article cited below says that helium-3 is abundant on the Moon. My guess is that once we run out of helium on Earth, we will turn our attention to harvesting it from other planets.

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