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Hanson talks helium with Star Tribune

HansonBob250x300St. Olaf College Professor of Chemistry and Department Chair Bob Hanson “has a knack for explaining to those who aren’t chemistry professors why helium is necessary,” notes a Star Tribune article about the dwindling production of helium.

Although helium is most often associated with balloons and squeaky voices, Hanson explains that it also plays an important role in some serious tasks. Its special property — a very low boiling point — makes it an excellent cooling product for things like the magnets that run MRI machines.

With helium prices rising, Hanson tells the paper, more hospitals and research institutes are recycling helium. “It’s a fairly new technology and costs a lot of electricity” but bolsters the supply, he notes.