As we go into the grad party season, helium-filled balloons can be a hot topic, especially with the future of helium up in the air. A worldwide shortage of helium isn’t new, but it is growing.
It’s the obvious, for balloon lovers news of a helium shortage is a party pooper.
Kim Cole, loves to use balloons to decorate. She says, “I was at party city to buy some walking balloons, me and my husband like to entertain a lot and have a lot of parties at our home and there was no helium they said I could go ahead and purchase the balloons and try to come back and fill them and so did because I was afraid the balloons would be gone three months later there was still no helium.”
But balloons are the least of our worries when it comes to a helium shortage.
Dr. Gary Kinsland, professor of Geology at UL Lafayette says, “It’s temperature at which it liquefies is very low just within a few degrees of what we call absolute zero and we have material that becomes super conducting which means they don’t have any resistance which means you can pass a lot of currents through them without it heating up.”
It’s used in space technology, smart phones and MRIs but we have to ask if it’s the second most abundant element in the universe, why is there a shortage.
Dr. Kinsland says, “The worldwide processing of helium from natural gas is not producing an over abundance of it at the price that people want in balloons and people running equipment in hospitals have to have it so they’re willing to pay more to make sure they get it.”
In simple terms, Dr. Kinsland, “So the cost goes up so the cost of your MRI goes up the cost of your balloons go up.”
Rick Hessler owns Ballusions and has been making balloon figures for decades. He says a helium shortage doesn’t mean the balloon fun has to end. “We use helium in our industry sometimes, you don’t have to but of course they use the helium to float the balloons. But there is a way to fix a balloon sculpture it’s sturdy, it’s not going anywhere and you can use regular air.”
Party City did recently announce they’re closing 45 stores nationwide. The CEO says it’s not because of the helium shortage, but they are working to get new sources of helium to have more quantities of it starting this summer.