Helium Saves the Lives of 38 Million People Every Year

There are 38 million MRIs performed every year in America. It’s one of the most important diagnostic tools that doctors have — and its powerful magnetic imaging can spot cancers, breaks, masses, and other maladies that no other medical device can. It saves millions of lives.

But a crisis looms on the horizon. MRIs are running out of the one consumable that makes the technology possible: helium.

You see, each magnet inside the MRI is surrounded by gallons and gallons of liquid helium — it’s the only way to keep them cool enough during operation. Without helium the magnets would overheat and wreck the machine. It’s also the key ingredient to image clarity since it eliminates the friction that would otherwise cause image noise.

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Helium is the coldest material on earth, and it’s the only element that never exists as a solid. When it’s pumped over an MRI magnet it lets electrical current pass through without resistance, providing the “magic” of MRIs.

As NBC reported in an interview with Dr. M. Mahesh, professor of radiology at Johns Hopkins, “Helium is how the magnet continuously [operates without melting down]… it’s an essential commodity.” 

Every single MRI machine consumes an enormous amount of liquid helium. Most current MRI machines are helium guzzlers that hold over 500 gallons. And while newer machines are built to use much less, it’s clear from the numbers that helium-saving technology alone isn’t enough to solve the problem.

Every single MRI machine consumes an enormous amount of liquid helium.

A small amount of helium is boiled off by every single procedure, which adds up to thousands of gallons over the course of the year. Since it’s the primary consumable of the procedure, the price of helium directly affects the cost of each MRI.

Now, before we go further, let me also clear up the difference between liquid helium and helium in its gas form — which isn’t as intuitive as you might think.

Helium’s density is extremely low when it’s in gas form, making it light enough to send balloons flying up through the air.

To illustrate, let’s consider the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day Parade, which is by far America’s biggest helium bonanza.The Thanksgiving Macy’s Day Parade, which is by far America’s biggest helium bonanza.

The parade uses an estimated 400,000 cubic feet of helium gas to fill all of those semi-truck-sized balloons. But if you converted it all into liquid form, you’d have just a tiny fraction of that, about 4,000 gallons.

That’s only enough helium to fill 8 MRI machines. And each one of those machines would still consume 250 gallons a year to replenish the amount lost during operation.

Helium Saves the Lives of 38 Million People Every Year.

Liquid helium is truly a rare and expensive resource — and it’s not renewable.

As Harvard physicist Philip Kim told NBC: 

“There’s only a finite amount of helium in the Earth’s crust. Once it evaporates off, it’s completely lost into outer space.”

So when reserves are depleted, as they are now, it’s extremely difficult to fill the supply gap.

New sources can command a premium that would be impossible in other industries.

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And that’s why our co-founder Nick Hodge has spent the last few months following this growing crisis — according to Nick, it’s now reached its make-or-break moment for the medical industry.

And as you’ve seen from us all this week, it’s not just used in medicine. Doctors are up against demand from labs, equipment manufacturers, and defense firms, all of whom can’t make-do without.

Nick has found a small supplier that’s about to bring a new plant online. 

It’s currently trading at just 40 cents.

But if things continue as they are now (and as I said, with a non-renewable resource, the conclusion is somewhat inevitable) those shares are about to be worth a whole lot more.

Nick has put together a new presentation that explains why this small supplier is so rare (and why so few are paying attention).

Countless lives will be saved once this new supply is online — and smart investors will be the ones to thank.

John Carl

John Carl
Editor, Daily Profit Cycle