So … What’s Up with Helium?

 

There’s not much of it left – right? That, at least, is the news that’s been promulgnated for the last few years. With only a handful of studies as evidence, it was reckoned that the international supply of helium (He) is being used up at a frightful rate and will soon be gone. (Well, all right, it might take several hundred years, but why wait until things get dicey, eh?)

We’re not of a mind to say a global helium shortage is hogwash; some evidence supports the proposition. We are of a mind, though, to assure you that A-OX Welding Supply in Sioux Falls and the PurityPlus® partner network of over 150 specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 facilities across the states are more than able to take care of your helium needs well into the future. We’re also intent on spreading a bit of good news about the world’s helium reserves. The reality is that there’s no reason to fret that there isn’t adequate helium for your professional needs. Take it from us; you’ll have plenty to facilitate each and every analytical task you normally perform, whether in the sphere of gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so imperative for the operation of MRI scanners, for the assembly of semiconductors and superconductors, for various space industry applications, and for hi-tech firms involved in nuclear research is quickly available – and will remain so – from A-OX Welding Supply.

The positive news about global helium reserves is that there are undoubtedly more of them than we once recognized existed. According to more-recent studies:

  • A few geological sectors have shown groundwater conveying huge volumes of helium into natural gas fields and trapping it there.
  • Deep helium, let loose in the genesis of mountain ranges like the Rockies, has percolated via groundwater into subterrestrial reservoirs where natural gas is found also.
  • In places of volcanic activity, plenty of heat is produced in seismic upheavals to release helium from common gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs in closer proximity to the earth’s surface. Obviously, it’s easier to access there – unless it’s too close to a volcano, which would make its harvesting awkward if not outright dangerous.

What these findings insinuate is that, 1) we’ve long underestimated how much helium is actually available to us, and 2) understanding the way helium gets trapped in the natural reservoirs we’re aware of is disclosing where to search for new helium resources.

Of course, there are some who maintain that the “helium crisis” is a fiction, that helium is continuously produced in nature, and merely liquifying more natural gas would allow us to take higher quantities of helium from it. Yes, helium is gotten from natural gas through condensation. But the equipment needed to do it has so far remained pricey. This has kept helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG) at a minimum. As equipment prices go down, though, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, enabling us to trap more of this noble gas before it would normally be burned up.

So, again, never fear. We do have practical options for getting hold of more helium. And you can trust A-OX Welding Supply here in Sioux Falls to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.