Fears of a global shortage of a precious gas has been assuaged by a massive Tanzanian helium find.
Helium is a rare gas that is threatening to go into extinction due to the fact that it is the second lightest element on the periodic table and can easily escape into space at any slightest opportunity.
Helium which accounts for about 24% of the atoms in the universe serves an important purpose for running machines like brain scanners and scientific facilities.
Liquid helium is also important if you want to cool off your superconducting magnets‚ because it forms at -452‚2°F (-269°C) which is the coldest of all the elements.
“There is no substitute for helium in cryogenic applications if temperatures below –429°F are required‚” according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
It is so crucial in MRI machines.
Chemist Andrea Sella‚ of University College London (UCL) told the BBC in 2013 that “all of the other elements we’ve scattered around the globe‚ maybe we can go digging in garbage dumps to get them back.”
“But helium is unique. When it’s gone it is lost to us forever.”
But not to worry, the huge Tanzanian Helium find has come to rescue the world from the lack of this precious gas. A team from the UK and Norway reportedly uncovered 54 billion cubic feet of the noble gas in Tanzania’s Rift valley.
“This is a significant find‚” said Jon Gluyas‚ professor of geo-energy at Durham University and a member of the discovery team. “There are reserves of helium gas‚ but they have been depleting quite quickly. The price has gone up 500% in 15 years.”
It is only natural to assume that as a result of the high temperatures created by volcanic activity in Tanzania’s section of the Rift Valley, the gas was released from ancient rocks, rose up and became trapped at a spot where it can be reached for easy exploitation.