Get Answers About the Helium Shortage from Lighter Than Air Balloons
LTAB understands your concerns about the global helium shortage – that's why we're here to help you learn more about helium, the current supply and what we're doing to help your festive decoration ideas stay afloat. Check out our answers to common questions below, as well as a quick list of balloon decoration ideas for your next big bash.
Where Does Helium Come From?
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but you won't find it in the air. That's because this gas is so light that it quickly rises into space. Strangely enough, the helium we find on Earth is actually trapped underground along with natural gas! Helium production is a byproduct of the natural gas industry, but there are relatively few places where helium is concentrated enough to successfully extract it. About 75 percent of the world's supply comes from just three areas – one in Texas, one in Wyoming and one in the country of Qatar.
Why Is There a Helium Shortage in 2019?
The current trouble with the world's helium supply is the result of multiple factors. Production plant closures, an embargo in Qatar in 2017 and a gradual sell-off of America's strategic helium reserves have all put pressure on the industry. This, combined with increasing global demand and other factors, has led to some of the issues with the helium market today.
Is Helium Running Out Permanently?
While helium is abundant throughout the universe, it is a finite resource on Earth. The helium shortage of 2019 doesn't mean that we've run out, though. New sources of helium have been discovered in Africa, and companies continue to search for additional places to mine the gas. It takes time to set up a new mining operation, however, so supplies may continue to be a bit tight.
Who Else Uses Helium?
Most people know helium thanks to its use in balloons and blimps, but this gas has a wide range of applications. One of its most important uses is in the medical field – it's used to cool magnets in MRI machines and can be mixed with air to help people with breathing problems. Its use in scientific research includes cryogenics, particle accelerators and even space exploration. Helium is also used in military applications and in the manufacture of semiconductors and fiber optic cables.