Helium makes up 25% of the atoms in the known universe, so one would guess that the inert gas would be quite plentiful on Earth.
Unfortunately, a familiar property of helium prevents this from happening. Helium gas is lighter than air and literally rises into space, depleting the Earth of almost all valuable helium resources over time.
Where do we get helium?
So how do we actually obtain new helium gas, which is necessary for important technological applications such as MRI machines, superconductors, and even the Large Hadron Collider?
Today’s infographic from Helium One shows everything you need to know on helium, including where we can find it on Earth, as well as the most important uses of the gas.
Although helium is plentiful in the universe, on Earth it is quite rare and difficult to obtain.
Why Do We Need Helium?
Helium has several properties that make it invaluable to modern humans, particularly for technological uses:
|Inert||Doesn’t react with other elements, and doesn’t explode like hydrogen|
|Non-toxic||Can be used by humans in a variety of applications|
|Lighter than air||Ability to lift and/or float|
|Melting point -272˚C||Liquid at ultra-cool temps enables superconductivity|
|Small molecular size||Can be used to find the smallest of leaks|
Helium demand has risen consistently since 2009, and the market has been increasing at a CAGR of 10.1% since 2010. With that in mind, here are the specific constituents of helium demand today:
|Helium Use||Global Share||Description|
|Cryogenics||23%||Superconductors use ultracooled helium liquid.|
|Lifting||15%||Used in airships and balloons|
|Electronics||14%||Used to manufacture silicon wafers|
|Optical Fiber||11%||Necessary to make optical fiber cables|
|Welding||9%||Used as a shielding gas for welding|
|Leak Detection||6%||Helium particles are small, and can find the tiniest leaks|
|Analytics||6%||Used in chromatography and other applications|
|Pressure & Purging||5%||Used in rocket systems|
|Diving||3%||Mixed into commercial diving tanks for various reasons|
|Other||8%||Helium's diverse properties give it many other minor uses|
Helium’s melting point, which is the lowest found in nature, allows it to remain as a liquid at the coolest possible temperature. This makes helium ideal for uses in superconductors, including MRI machines – one of the fastest growing components of helium demand.
But where do we obtain this elusive gas?
It turns out that new helium is actually created every day in very tiny amounts within the Earth’s crust as a by-product of radioactive decay. And like other gases below the Earth’s surface (i.e. natural gas), helium gets trapped in geological formations in economical amounts.
Today, much of helium is either produced as a by-product of natural gas deposits, or from helium-primary gas deposits with concentrations up to 7% He.
Here’s helium production by country:
|Country||2016 production (in billion cubic feet)||Share|
|USA (from Cliffside Field)||0.8||14%|
USA (from Cliffside Field)
The USA government has a helium stockpile at the Cliffside Field in Texas, developed as part of a WWI initiative. It is in the process of being phased out, and by as late as 2021 it will no longer contribute to supply.
In December 2013, the Qatar Helium 2 project was opened. This new facility combined with the first helium project makes the country the 2nd largest source of helium globally.
Russia is looking to become a player in helium as well. Gazprom’s Amur LNG project will be one of the biggest gas facilities in the world, and it will include a helium processing plant. This won’t be online until 2024, though.
Though not a helium player yet, scientists have recently uncovered a major helium find in the Rift Valley of Tanzania which contains an estimated 99 billion cubic feet of gas.
The Future of the Helium Market?
Because of inflated demand, especially for cryogenics in MRI machines, helium prices have risen significantly over the years.
And with these market dynamics in mind, it’s clear that the future of helium is not full of hot air.
40 Stock Market Terms That Every Beginner Should Know
Getting a grasp on the market can be a daunting task for new investors, but this infographic is an easy first step to help in understanding stock market terms.
40 Stock Market Terms That Every Beginner Should Know
Understanding the stock market can be a daunting task for any new investor.
Not only are there many concepts and technical terms to decipher, but nearly everybody will try to give you conflicting pieces of advice.
For example, if a stock in your portfolio falls in price, should you be accumulating additional shares at a lower price or should you be strategically cutting your losses?
Some experts will tell you one thing, while others will tell you precisely the opposite.
A Place to Start: Terminology
Before you drift into the many debates that the investing pundits are weighing in on, perhaps the most proactive step for a beginner is to simply learn to talk the same language as the pros.
Today’s infographic comes to us from StocksToTrade.com, and it covers the most important stock market terms that every new investor should know and understand. It’s enough to get any beginner on the same playing field, so they can start toying with the more nuanced or complex concepts in the investing universe.
While we don’t agree with the exact definitions of all of the terms, the list is adequate enough to get any new investor off the ground. It covers basic order terms like “bid”, “ask”, and “volume”, but it also goes into concepts like “authorized shares”, “secondary offerings”, “yield”, and a security’s “moving average”.
Already got a handle on 40 of the most important stock market terms?
Visual Capitalist has a ton of other powerful visual resources for new investors, or anyone else hungry to learn about how markets work:
- Learn how to read stock charts
- Visualize the power of compound interest
- See this simple introduction to investing we published
- See how elite growth investors pick stocks
- Learn about the basics of ETFs and mutual funds, and even the differences between them
- Learn about the basics of creating a stock portfolio
- See how stock market indices work
- Understand 12 types of technical indicators for investing
- See how Warren Buffett’s brain works
Crush the above resources, and you’ll be market savvy in no time!
A Brief History of Jewelry Through the Ages
Jewelry has been coveted for centuries by many different cultures. Here’s a look at the history of jewelry, and how it’s evolved into a $348B industry.
Jewelry has been an integral aspect of human civilization for centuries, but it was the discovery and subsequent spread of precious metals and gemstones which really changed the game.
In today’s infographic from Menē, we visualize how the uses and symbolism of jewelry have evolved across time and space to become the industry we’re familiar with today.
Antique, Yet Ageless
There isn’t a single corner of the world that’s untouched by the influence of jewelry.
- Ancient Egypt
Gold accompanied the affluent into the afterlife – the famous 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb was filled to the brim with gold jewelry.
- Ancient Greece and Rome
Jewelry was used practically, and as a protection against evil. The gold olive wreath design was highly popular during this time.
Both men and women in the Sumer civilization wore intricate pieces of jewelry, incorporating bright gems like agate, jasper, or lapis lazuli.
The aristocracy in Aztec culture wore gold jewelry with gemstones to demonstrate their rank. The jewelry also doubled up as godly sacrifices.
- Ancient India
The Mughal Empire introduced the combination of gemstones with gold and silver. Today, pure gold jewelry is often gifted to new brides for financial security.
- Ancient China
Both rich and poor wore jade jewelry for its durable and protective properties. Pure gold jewelry is making a fashion comeback, doubling as a form of investment.
Modern Jewelry: At a Crossroads
Today, jewelry is at once the very same and vastly different from what it used to be.
The industry is worth upwards of $348 billion per year, and it’s not hard to see why. As an alternative asset, jewelry has grown 138% in value over the last decade – only outperformed by classic cars, rare coins, and fine wine.
However, perceptions of jewelry vastly differ. It’s not a stretch to say that Western jewelry buyers are enamored with diamonds, given their enduring association with special occasions – but it’s interesting to note how that ideal was fabricated.
The Invention of Diamonds
The De Beers Group is well known for making diamonds great again. In the early 1900s, the company had already monopolized the diamond trade and stabilized the market, but they faced the challenge of marketing diamonds to consumers at all income levels.
The average American considered diamonds an extravagance, preferring to spend money on cars and appliances instead. The concept of engagement rings existed, but weren’t widely adopted. The #1 slogan of the century – “A Diamond is Forever” – transformed all that.
Even as more companies like Tiffany and Co and Cartier entered the playing field, De Beers had set a successful industry standard. But there’s a catch – diamonds are actually:
- Not all that rare in nature
- Intrinsically low in value
- Easily replicated in a lab
- Decreasing in sales
Despite these caveats, the popularity of diamonds illustrate how Western consumers do not approach jewelry in the same way as Eastern economies, where its function as a store of wealth persists.
The Eastern Gold Standard
In Eastern economies, jewelry often takes the form of pure gold. The reasons behind this difference are surprisingly pragmatic: gold is considered a secure and innate store of wealth that maintains its purchasing value over decades, allowing families to pass wealth from generation to generation.
The rich history of the precious metal has made it a sought-after commodity for centuries, and China and India drive more than half of global gold jewelry demand every year:
|Year||Share of Demand (India + China)||Total Global Jewelry Demand (tonnes)|
Source: Gold Hub – Values have been rounded up to the nearest tonne.
Why are Eastern cultures so attracted to the properties of pure gold?
Part 2 of this series will show why gold is the world’s most incredible metal, and why it’s coveted by billions of people.
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