9 ways that technology uses helium

Western Digital's new helium-filled hard drives prompted questions about whether it is wise to use already low helium reserves for this purpose. In reality, the helium supply is growing, and the drives would use a minuscule amount of it anyway. Here are 9 other ways that helium is used today.
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Credit: Image of a helium filled discharge tube shaped like the element’s atomic symbol/Wikimedia Commons

The many uses of helium

Western Digital's announcement that it’s shipping 6TB helium-filled hard drives raised eyebrows among industry pundits that it could further deplete already low helium reserves.

Actually, through renewed efforts to replenish reserves and new mining efforts, helium supplies worldwide are growing. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees the U.S. reserve, believes that within five years, helium supply will exceed demand.

Western Digital argues that its hard drives, even at peak sales, will only account for 1% of U.S. use. The U.S. uses about 5.5 billion cubic feet of helium gas a year. Helium is now being used in a variety of ways. But first, a little background.

(Data source: U.S. Bureau of Land Management)

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