From The Great Beyond comes word of a reprieve in the looming shortage of Helium-3 in the U.S., something I’ve noticed a few times before. The specific response has come from a one time increase in the amount of helium the U.S. will make available during the coming year.
(I had neglected to document the U.S. response to shortages, which has included the creation of an Interagency Policy Committee at the White House in 2009. The Nature piece provides a brief timeline.)
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to determine how to deal with supplies moving forward. Possible options include an expanded effort to encourage alternatives to the current technologies (often detectors) that rely on the He-3 isotope, deals with countries that have production facilities (heavy water reactors), and tightly managing current demand. While no one has made the link that I’ve seen, a continued reduction in nuclear weapons may provide additional supplies of the material, though that is not a sustainable solution for He-3 demand as weapon numbers dwindle.