Don’t Look Now, Michigan – We’re Running Low on Helium
According to the Detroit Free Press, helium is in short supply. In fact, some people in Michigan are having a problem finding places that can guarantee they'll have enough helium for their party balloons. And when they do find a retailer with helium, the price has gone up.
The problem - supply and demand. Classic higher demand and lower supply. There's some worry among scientists who use helium in scientific applications. One use of helium is to cool superconductive magnets. The medical industry is also worried because MRIs also use helium as a coolant. The shortage has gotten so bad that some medical companies are suggesting a ban on helium filled party balloons.
Party City - which is a chain of over 800 stores, has signs up warning their customers of the helium shortage and even blamed the shortage for it's poor 4th quarter revenue.
If there's good news, companies are looking for new sources of helium, which is usually mixed with natural gas and has to be processed and separated.
Have you seen this problem around Mid-Michigan? Is it affecting YOUR superconductive magnets - or graduation party balloons?