So Whats Up with Helium?


There’s a shortage – right? That, at least, is the news that’s been out there over the last few years. On the basis of a handful of studies, it was determined that the world supply of helium (He) is being used up at a frightful rate and will soon disapper altogether. (Well, okay, it may take two or three more centuries, but why mark time until things get dicey, eh?)

We’re not going to assure you a global helium shortage is moonshine; some evidence bears out the notion. We are, however, going to assure you that Noble Gas Solutions in Albany and the PurityPlus® partner network of better than 150 specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 facilities across America can easily satisfy your helium needs well into the future. We also want to spread a bit of positive news about the world’s helium reserves. The thrust of it is that you haven’t any reason to fret that there isn’t enough helium for your professional needs. Relax; you’ll have plenty to facilitate each and every analytical task you typically perform, whether in the sphere of gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so indispensable for the operation of MRI scanners, for the assembly of semiconductors and superconductors, for various space industry applications, and for hi-tech outfits engaged in nuclear research is quickly available – and will remain so – from Noble Gas Solutions.

The good news about global helium reserves is that there are probably 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, liberated in the birth of mountain ranges such as the Rockies, has filtered via groundwater into subterranean reservoirs where natural gas is found as well.
  • In regions where volcanic activity is prevalent, plenty of heat is produced in seismic upheavals to release helium from common gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs nearer to the earth’s surface. Obviously, it’s simpler to access 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 actually available to us, and 2) understanding why helium gets trapped in the natural reservoirs of which we have knowledge is revealing where to hunt for new helium resources.

That said, there are some who firmly believe that the “helium crisis” is no crisis at all, that helium is continuously produced in nature, and simply liquifying more natural gas would permit us to take higher quantities of helium from it. It’s true that helium is gotten from natural gas through condensation. But the equipment necessary to do it has so far remained pricey. This has kept helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG) at a minimum. As equipment prices fall, though, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, letting us draw out more of this noble gas before it would otherwise be burned up.

So, as we said earlier, never fear. We do have reasonable options for collecting more helium. And you can count on Noble Gas Solutions here in Albany to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.