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Helium Shortage Continues to Inflate Prices for Researchers

The global helium shortage, continues to drive up prices for researchers, impacting critical scientific experiments and equipment. Institutions across the world are grappling with soaring helium costs, with some paying as much as US$3,750/mcf, a significant increase of ~15x from the previous decade where prices were as low as US$250/mcf. Universities in the US are currently paying in the range of US$1,100 – 1,700/mcf; Australian universities are paying even higher prices of ~US$2,600/mcf due to loss of domestic supply; and universities in the EU are paying close to US$1,850/mcf. In response to the shortage, many research facilities are investing in helium recovery and liquefaction systems to reduce costs, although these systems come with their own challenges, including high power consumption and maintenance requirements. A university in Canada is recycling liquid helium at ~US$130/mcf. A report by Physics Today delves into the helium prices paid by different universities and research organisations and shows the demand and related prices paid.

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