How is Helium extracted at Spec Air Specialty Gases

Lately there has been a lot of conversation surrounding the apparent lack of Helium accessible in Auburn and elsewhere around the world. This causes concern considering that this gas is used throughout multiple industries in Auburn. Uses for the gas include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Lifting gas – for hot air balloons and smaller recreational balloons
  • Breathing Mixtures – for deep-water diving and medical treatments
  • Welding Gas – utilized as a shielding atmosphere

Helium is a result of radioactive decay in natural gas. Therefore since natural gas has the most volume of helium, most specialty gas laboratories like Spec Air Specialty Gases will extract Helium via natural gas. There are also trace amounts of helium in the air which can also be mined, however the process for that is expensive and rarely used.

Helium is sometimes extracted from natural gas through a cryogenic piping system. The natural gas is pressurized, and then passed through a sieve. During this scrubbing process, helium is separated from natural gas so that only crude helium remains. At this point, since the crude helium is only about 50% pure, more purification processes are needed.

The temperature on the helium is reduced to -315 degrees Fahrenheit so that any remaining nitrogen or methane gases become liquefied and can be easily drained from the gas. The heat on the helium is then increased and oxygen is added to the gas so that any remnant traces of hydrogen will mix with the oxygen creating water. Once the water vapors are formed, the mixture is decreased and the water is drained from the mixture.

Once the water has been removed, the Helium then goes into vessels filled with tiny particles to further purify the gas (think of the carbon water filters in most homes in Auburn today). The process is repeated until the Helium is 99.99% pure specialty gas.

We at Spec Air Specialty Gases take this purification process very serious as multiple industries, from the medical industry to the food & beverage industry, rely on our specialty gases for the best possible experience.

To learn more on how your company can get the most genuine Helium in Auburn, contact Spec Air Specialty Gases today.