Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Darn This International Helium Shortage!
I have mentioned in a past blog how important I think dirigibles will be in the future, but we have hit a snag.
There is a worldwide helium shortage.
Apparently almost all of the world's helium comes from a 250-square-mile area around Amarillo, Texas. It is produced over a period of billions of years when natural gas hangs around uranium and thorium. If you don't carefully catch it during the natural gas extraction, it immediately books it for the stratosphere, never to be seen again.
It is estimated that we will run completely out of helium some time before the end of this century.
The U.S. government has a vast stockpile of it -- about 32 billion cubic feet of it -- but they are selling it off like crazy, even though they need it themselves. NASA needs about 75 million cubic feet of it each year, and they're having trouble keeping it in stock.
So what am I supposed to use in my post-apocalyptic dirigible? Hydrogen? Not likely with cannibalistic mutants shooting flintlocks at me.