Most of the world's helium supply is in the American Southwest — about 80% is held at the US National Helium Reserve, in Amarillo, Texas. The other major reserves are spread throughout the world, primarily in Qatar, Algeria, and Russia. Legislation requiring the US to sell off all its helium reserves by 2015, has resulted in the market being flooded with under-priced helium. At current rates of helium use and sale, the world's supply of helium is likely to run out by 2035.
More facts about helium:
- Helium is a precious, non-renewable resource used for a variety of things like cooling MRI machines, cleaning rockets, and of course, filling up party balloons.
- Helium has the lowest melting and boiling point of all the elements, making it ideal for use in cryogenics.
- The reason helium gives people a "chipmunk" voice is because sound vibrations travel faster in helium than they do in oxygen, meaning the vibrations from the vocal cords reach the mouth more quickly, causing the throat to resonate at a higher frequency, which gives the voice a higher pitch.