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Massive Helium Discovery Being Called 'Game Changer'

2 years ago35 views

GeoBeats

Geo Beats

Helium supplies on Earth have been dwindling, but a recent discovery of a large helium reserve in Tanzania's East African Rift Valley made by researchers from the University of Oxford and Durham University is being hailed as “a game-changer.”

Helium supplies on Earth have been dwindling, but a recent discovery of a large helium reserve in Tanzania's East African Rift Valley made by researchers from the University of Oxford and Durham University is being hailed as “a game-changer.”  
While it’s well known as a balloon filler, helium is also a necessary component in MRIs and semiconductors because of its ability to cool things down to a low temperature, notes Gizmodo.
About 8 billion cubic feet a year is used globally, and the existing reserves have been predicted to last only for several decades. 
Jon Gluyas with Durham University told the BBC, “Helium is the second most abundant element in the Universe but it's exceedingly rare on Earth.” 
One of the problems is that the gas can easily float away. 
Thankfully, the gas can also end up trapped underground. The team estimates the large cache of helium contains about “54 Billion Cubic Feet...in just one part of the rift valley.” 
As one of the researchers, Chris Ballentine, states, it is “around the size of 600,000 Olympic sized swimming pools with helium gas. That's nearly seven times the total amount of helium consumed globally every year and enough to fill over 1.2 million medical MRI scanners."
Also notable is the fact that this is the first time helium was found intentionally by employing advanced techniques used in oil exploration. 
The team hopes to find more helium fields with this method. 

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