So Whats Up with Helium?


Its reserves are dwindling – right? That, anyway, is the news that’s been circulating for the last few years. With only a handful of studies as evidence, it was inferred that the world supply of helium (He) is being used up at a frightful rate and will soon disapper altogether. (Well, yeah, it might take two or three more centuries, but why hold off until things get dicey, eh?)

We’re not ready to say a global helium shortage is ridiculous; some evidence backs the notion. We’re more than ready, though, to assure you that Sidney Lee Medical & Scientific Gases in Atlanta, GA and the PurityPlus® partner network of better than 150 specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 loctions coast to coast can readily satisfy your helium needs well into the future. We’re also intent on spreading a little cheer about the world’s helium reserves. The truth is that there’s no reason to fear that there isn’t sufficient helium for your professional needs. Trust us; you’ll have lots of it to facilitate every analytical task you typically perform, be it for gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so critical for the operation of MRI scanners, for the manufacture of semiconductors and superconductors, for diverse space industry applications, and for hi-tech outfits doing nuclear research is quickly available – and will continue to be – from Sidney Lee Medical & Scientific Gases.

The positive news about global helium reserves is that there may actually be more of them than we realized existed. According to more-recent studies:

  • Various geological sectors have shown groundwater moving huge volumes of helium into natural gas fields and trapping it there.
  • Deep helium, freed in the formation of mountain ranges like the Rockies, has trickled via groundwater into subterrestrial reservoirs where natural gas is found too.
  • In regions where volcanic eruptions are the norm, sufficient heat is produced in seismic upheavals to release helium from conventional gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs closer to the earth’s surface. Obviously, it’s more accessible there – unless it’s too close to a volcano, which would make its removal tricky.

The salient points of these findings are that, 1) we’ve long underestimated how much helium is really available to us, and 2) understanding how helium gets trapped in the natural reservoirs we’ve discoved is showing us where to prospect for new helium resources.

That said, there are some who contend that the “helium crisis” is a fiction, that helium is continuously produced in nature, and just liquifying more natural gas would make it possible for us to get higher quantities of helium from it. Yes, helium is gotten from natural gas through condensation. But the equipment needed to do it has thus far remained pricey. This has kept helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG) at a minimum. As equipment prices fall, however, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, allowing us to draw out more of this noble gas before it would normally be burned up.

So, as we said earlier, never fear. We do have attainable options for getting hold of more helium. And you can bank on Sidney Lee Medical & Scientific Gases here in Atlanta, GA to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.