Small to balloon inflators, large to medical research, known as “golden gas” helium is widely used. But in Japan, disney can’t even sell helium balloons because of a helium shortage. Xinhua News Agency reported on December 23rd that helium balloons with Disney characters have been popular with tourists, but due to a global shortage of helium supply, Japanese gas suppliers and other factors, Tokyo Disney from October only limited sales of helium balloons, only in accordance with the monthly purchase of helium stock limited supply.
Originally titled:”Golden Gas” Global Shortage, Even Japanese Disney Can’t Sell Helium Balloons
Journalists . . . High-rise instrument
In recent weeks, Disney has stopped selling helium balloons.
This is not the first time Japan has encountered a lack of helium. Japan also faced a helium shortage between 2012 and 2013, when it also allowed amusement parks such as Disney to stop using balloons, but industries such as semiconductors were able to get relatively plenty of helium. According to Nikkei news reports, the helium shortage is worse than it was in 2012.
Several hospitals have been hampered by the priority of medical helium, while a research organization affiliated with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has completed just one of six observation balloon releases this fiscal year. Yume Fusen, a Tokyo-based helium supplier, says it has received only 30 to 40 percent of the available helium in recent months.
For Japan, which relies entirely on imported helium, the shortage is mainly due to the source of helium and its reserves. These two problems also have a huge impact on global helium applications.
Qatar is one of the world’s major sources of helium imports, meeting 30 percent of the world’s helium demand, the Asahi Shimbun reported. But the diplomatic turmoil in June 2017 has led to continued tensions between Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries, with sanctions and other factors reducing the supply of helium and raising the cost of importing helium from Qatar as countries such as China and India compete for industrial and other uses.
Although new helium plants in Qatar and Russia have been put into operation, the helium shortage is still not alleviated until they are operational.
As the largest exporter, the U.S. produces 60 percent of global helium. The United States had a large amount of helium in the 1990s because of cold war reserves, but in recent years it has also been rapidly losing its inventory. In addition to the disappearance of helium balloons at birthday party markets and big celebrations in other countries, Party City, which specializes in party supplies sales in the United States, has closed at least 45 stores in the first five months of this year.
As a result of the capacity adjustment, the U.S. prioritizes the supply of helium to domestic industries, including NASA, while causing imports from other countries to plummet. Over the past decade, the amount of helium imported from the United States has halved, while prices have soared 2.3 times.
On the other hand, the U.S. has stepped up shale gas development in recent years, leading to a sharp drop in the amount of helium that can be extracted underground. Helium is a very small density gas that escapes into the atmosphere. Second, helium is an inert gas with few solid or liquid compound forms, so helium is generally present as a single-mass gas. In addition, helium solubility is poor enough to dissolve in water. These factors make it difficult to collect large quantities of helium.
In addition to being an inflatable function, helium is also an essential element of magnetic resonance imaging and is used in deep-sea diving, airbags, rocket fuel, medical, and technical fields including fiber optics and semiconductors.
Increased competition in the semiconductor industry has led to a growing demand for helium. According to Intelligas, the total use of helium in Asia accounted for more than 30 percent of the global market in 2017, with South Korea importing more than 2,000 tons of helium for the first time in 2018.
On one side is the global helium production stagnation, on the other side is the rising demand for helium. The surge in helium prices is changing the way companies make. Part of lg Display’s manufacturing project in South Korea has turned helium, which had previously been used, into nitrogen, mainly because of concerns that the supply of helium was restricted and prices rose further.
Naotami Miyagaki, an iwata executive, said the “supply shortage could last two to three years” mainly because of structural problems at crisis levels. The Japanese Physical Society and the Japanese Chemical Society issued a joint statement on the 20th, calling on the government, academia and industry to cooperate to increase helium recovery efforts to build large-scale helium storage plant.
William Halperin, a physics professor at Northwestern University, points out that at current consumption rates and known global reserves, helium supplies can last up to another 200 years. Although there have been suggestions of recycling helium, Sophia HiSilicon, a professor of chemistry at the University of Washington, points out that this is difficult and expensive, and that “helium is a real non-renewable energy source”.
However, some experts believe that the helium shortage will soon ease. Phil Kornbluth, a helium expert at the 2019 gawDA annual meeting, said the helium shortage would begin to ease by the end of 2020. “Unless there is a massive power outage in Qatar, the worst is over. He said.