Hillcroft LRC

He is for Helium

Posted on: July 4, 2016

MRI scannerHelium is an ultra-light gas (think of balloons) discovered in 1868 by a French scientist, Pierre Janssen. It is the second most abundant gas in the universe but supplies on Earth have been running low and hard to find. Why is this cause for concern? Helium has many uses – in medicine, in space and science generally.

The most common use in medicine is nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This is often used to diagnose soft tissue conditions like stroke, ligament injuries and tumours.

Liquid helium is used to keep the superconducting magnets cool in an MRI machine. In the last 5 years, doctors and radiological staff have become increasingly concerned that helium stocks were running low and what that would mean for MRI as a diagnostic health investigation.

It has been reported this week in New Scientist that fortunately, vast helium reserves have been located in The Great Rift Valley in Tanzania, in the east of the African continent. This means the many uses for helium have a slight reprieve but geologists will have to keep looking to stop the world from running out.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: