Ther­mal spring with rare gas found in Ti­bet

People's Review - - OP-ED -

BEI­JING, May 10 (Xin­hua) -- A ther­mal spring rich in the rare gas he­lium has been iden­ti­fied in Ti­bet Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, and has the po­ten­tial to be ex­ploited, the Science and Tech­nol­ogy Daily re­ported Thurs­day. Re­searchers from China and the United States be­lieve the he­lium con­cen­tra­tion could be as high as 1.11 per­cent in some ther­mal-spring gas in Ali pre­fec­ture in Ti­bet, the news­pa­per quoted a source of the In­sti­tute of Ti­betan Plateau Re­search with the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ences (CAS) as say­ing. If he­lium con­cen­tra­tion ex­ceeds 0.1 per­cent it can be be in­dus­tri­ally uti­lized. He­lium is a col­or­less and odor­less in­ert gas with a low boil­ing point. It has been widely used in aero­space, low tem­per­a­ture su­per­con­duc­tiv­ity, the nu­clear in­dus­try and sci­en­tific re­search. The con­cen­tra­tion of he­lium in the at­mos­phere is only 5.2 parts per mil­lion, mak­ing the cost of its ex­trac­tion very high. In 2001, Chi­nese re­searchers with the In­sti­tute of Ge­ol­ogy and Geo­physics of the CAS dis­cov­ered ther­mal-spring gas with a high con­cen­tra­tion of he­lium at an al­ti­tude of 4,340 me­ters, dur­ing a geo­ther­mal study. They and U.S. re­searchers with Stan­ford Univer­sity in July gath­ered the gas sam­ples and re­cently re­vealed the test re­sults. China has low lev­els of he­lium, and has re­lied on im­ports for a long time. There is only one nat­u­ral gas field in China that can re­al­ize the in­dus­trial ex­ploita­tion of he­lium.

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