Helium is one of the most abundant chemical elements in the universe and has become an essential part of many industries. But the story of how it was formed and its evolution over the years is an interesting one.
Helium is created in the stars, mainly through a process called fusion. Fusion involves the combining of two lighter elements to create something much heavier. In the case of Helium fusion, it involves the combining of hydrogen atoms to create Helium. This happens when massive stars begin to die and their cores collapse under their own weight. When this happens, the helium created is released back into the universe.
Helium was initially only found in very small amounts in the Earth’s atmosphere when it was first discovered in 1868 by French scientist Pierre Janssen. For years a major source of the element was Earth’s natural gas reservoirs. It is estimated that around 75% of the world’s supply of Helium comes from these sources.
However, in the 1970s, a big discovery of Helium-rich rocks was made in the deserts of southeastern United States. Scientists discovered that the heat and pressure of extreme depths within the Earth had given rise to large amounts of Helium-rich gas. This has now become the main source for the extraction of Helium for industrial use.
The main use for Helium in industry is in cryogenics and pressurization systems. It is used to cool certain apparatus during medical and scientific operations, such as in MRI machines and space exploration. It is also used to create pressurization systems in tanks used to store pressurized gases, like liquid oxygen and nitrogen.
Helium is also used as a propellant in rocket fuel and is a critical element in the production of nuclear reactors. In fact, many countries are now actively searching for ways to extract Helium from underground rock to compete with the use of natural gas reservoirs.
Overall, Helium has gone through an interesting evolution over the years. From being just a random chemical element found in the universe, it has become essential for many industries and is still playing a major role in the evolution of science, medicine and technology.