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Whilst Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, it is relatively rare on earth. It is a non renewable resource and  once released into the atmosphere readily escapes into space. The Nobel Laureate physicist Robert Coleman Richardson has written that the ‘free market price’ set by the USA has contributed to wasteful uses [such as helium balloons]. He claims the price needs to rise by 20 times to conserve stocks for cooling the superconducting magnets in medical scanners and spectrometers which account for 32% of all uses. Other major applications include arc welding and controlling atmospheres for growing silicon and germanium crystals.  Airships  use this lighter than air gas for ‘lift’ and Helium - Neon lasers are a low cost source for barcode readers and laser pointers.


The first evidence of helium was observed on 18th August in 1868.

by the French astronomer Jules Janssen during a solar eclipse in Guntur in India.


In 2011 the world’s Helium reserves were estimated at 40 billion cubic metres with a quarter of that being owned by Qatar and Iran. In 2015/16  more reserves were recently announced to be under the Rocky Mountains in North America and in east Africa.