Will We Go Over the “Helium Cliff”?

This week Congress returns to Washington from their summer break. Of the many things facing Congress upon their return is the “helium cliff”, a play on the year-end “fiscal cliff” deadline. Unless Congress acts to put legislation in place for a gradual wind down, the Federal Helium Reserve will shut down on October 8th.

Currently one-third of the world’s crude helium is supplied by the Federal Helium Reserve. To complicate matters more, some industry experts predict that the Bureau of Land Management, the government agency in charge of the Federal Helium Reserve, may need to begin winding down operations as early as September 15th to prepare for the closure. Closing of the reserves will likely lead to immediate shortages that could translate into a spike in helium prices.

Some chromatographers are lucky as they have alternatives to helium. Hydrogen and in some cases nitrogen can be used as a carrier gas. We’ll have to wait and see if Congress acts on this prior to October 8th or if we end up going over the “helium cliff”.

Resources:

Other ChromaBLOGraphy Articles About the Helium Shortage –
http://blog.restek.com/?p=622
http://blog.restek.com/?p=5222

Using Hydrogen as a Carrier Gas –
http://www.chromatographyonline.com/lcgc/Column%3A+Column+Watch/Hydrogen-for-GC-and-GCndashMS/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/653133?contextCategoryId=9677
http://www.restek.com/Landing-Pages/Content/gen_B008
http://www.restek.com/gas

3 Responses to “Will We Go Over the “Helium Cliff”?”

  1. Alan Sensue says:

    I recently found a webpage showing the price fluctuations (yearly) of helium since the inception of the program. I thought I would share it with our blog readers.

    The Roller Coaster Ups And Downs of The World’s Helium Supply (link below).

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/roller-coaster-ups-and-downs-helium-business-infographic

  2. jaap says:

    It will allow our friends in the middle east, to compete on another arena then fuels: yes, helium… there is enough down there..

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