Oh yes, lets use Helium!

Meet the BAT, an airborne wind turbine

At first the idea of a lighter-than-air product to reach the higher energy winds at higher altitude makes a great deal of sense, but the use of helium makes it a really dumb idea. There is a helium shortage made increasingly worse by our dysfunctional government decisions (sometimes it is hard to accept that there are any ‘functional’ government decisions). Though helium is the second most abundant element in the universe (about 24% by mass, with hydrogen making a bit less than 74%; yes that is right, all the other matter in the universe makes up just a wee bit more than 2% by weight), because it is so light it tends to float to the top of our atmosphere and then gets picked off by solar radiation making it among the rarest of elements on our planet. Hydrogen, in addition to be plentiful (water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, doanchano) is ‘larger’ in its normal state (being a dimer of two hydrogen atoms) and thus leaks a lot less (helium is notorious for leaking through even the most air-tight containers). Yes, hydrogen has an unfortunate tendency to explode (see Hindenburg), but only if mixed with oxygen (air be 23% oxygen by mass of course) is it a problem. The simplest solution (though naturally one Americans would fight tooth and nail with their NIMBY fixation) would be to use hydrogen even though it is a bit less efficient and reserve our helium reserves for things that can’t do without it (such as MRIs).

Author: Tfoui

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