Tech Dreams

Earth Is Running Out Of Helium. Birthday Parities May Not Have Balloons In Future

There is no doubt that we are running out of many resources required for supporting life on Earth. There is shortage of water, oil, natural gas, minerals and many more resource.

Couple of days ago Stephen Hawking, the renowned astrophysicist, said that we should colonize space within two centuries, otherwise there is a danger of mankind extinct.

Another scientist Robert Richardson, a Nobel Prize winner, believes that Helium supplies will run out in another 25 years. Once we are out of Helium there are no more balloons for birthday parties or as gifts to our loved ones, at least for the common man.


Helium is widely used in medical MRI systems,  manufacturing LCDs & fibre options, rocketry, airships, controlled atmospheres, pressurizing and purging gas systems.

So what do we do once we run out of Helium. According to Robert Richardson

There is no chemical means to make helium. The supplies we have on Earth come from radioactive alpha decay in rocks. Right now it’s not commercially viable to recover helium from the air, so we have to rely on extracting it from rocks. But if we do run out altogether, we will have to recover helium from the air and it will cost 10,000 times what it does today.

US is the major producer of Helium as it accounts to 80% of the entire world’s production. US seems to be selling Helium at “ridiculously low prices” says Robert. So we need to do something to preserve this precious gas. Robert suggests

[Let the US] Get out of the business and let the free market prevail. The consequence will be a rise in prices. Unfortunately, party balloons will be $100 each rather than $3 but we’ll have to live with that. We will have to live with those prices eventually anyway.

Read full interview of Robert Richardson with  New Scientist

cc image credit: flickr