Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Bleak Future Ahead?

A Helium Shortage? 
Emily Jenkins
There are two kinds of stable helium. You know the first one: It puts lift in birthday balloons, Thanksgiving Day parades, the Goodyear blimp.
The federal government first identified helium as a strategic resource in the 1920s; in 1960 Uncle Sam began socking it away in earnest. Thirty-two billion cubic feet of the gas are bunkered underground in Cliffside, a field of porous rock near Amarillo. But now the government is getting out of the helium business, and it's selling the stockpile to all comers.

Rare Earth in BlackBerry to Prius Underscores Alarm Over Supply

Rare-earth elements help give BlackBerrys their buzz, Toyota Priuses their battery power, and computer hard drives their spin.
The rare earths, a group of 17 metals including neodymium, lanthanum, cerium and europium, also have industrial and national-security uses, such as in petroleum refining, fiber- optics transmission, and military radar and missile-guidance systems.
China’s 72 percent reduction in export quotas for the second half of this year, which it announced in July, and the customs delays since then are driving up prices. U.S. Representative Edward Markey, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, asked the Obama administration on Oct. 21 to report on China’s export restrictions and ramifications for the military and U.S. clean- energy producers.

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