So … What’s Up with Helium?


We haven’t got enough of it anymore – right? That, in any event, is the news that’s been out there for the last few years. On the basis of a smattering of studies, it was determined that the international supply of helium (He) is being consumed at a dangerous rate and will soon disapper altogether. (Well, all right, that could take a couple of centuries or so, but why procrastinate until things get out of hand, eh?)

We’re not going to tell you a global helium shortage is silly; some evidence backs the perception. We are, however, going to assure you that American Welding & Gas, Inc. in Indianapolis and the PurityPlus® partner network of better than 150 specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 installations across the country can readily take care of your helium needs well into the future. We’re also intent on spreading a little positive news about the world’s helium reserves. The truth is that there’s no reason to worry that there isn’t enough helium for your professional needs. Rest easy; you’ll have a wealth of it to facilitate each analytical task you typically perform, whether for gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so imperative for the operation of MRI scanners, for the creation of semiconductors and superconductors, for all manner of space industry applications, and for hi-tech outfits engaged in nuclear research is quickly available – and will remain so – from American Welding & Gas, Inc..

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

  • Various geological areas have shown groundwater transporting huge volumes of helium into natural gas fields and trapping it there.
  • Deep helium, outgassed in the birth of mountain ranges like the Rockies, has leaked via groundwater into subterranean reservoirs where natural gas is found also.
  • In areas where volcanic activity is frequent, sufficient heat is produced in seismic turmoil to release helium from typical gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs in closer proximity to the earth’s surface. Obviously, it’s more accessible there – unless it’s too close to a volcano, which would make its harvesting problematic.

What these findings evince is that, 1) we’ve long underestimated how much helium is really available to us, and 2) understanding why helium gets trapped in the natural reservoirs we’re aware of is showing us where to explore for new helium resources.

That said, there are some who firmly believe that a helium crisis isn’t upon us, that helium is continually produced in nature, and just liquifying more natural gas would make it possible for us to take higher quantities of helium from it. To be sure, helium is gotten from natural gas through condensation. But the equipment required to do it has thus far remained cost-prohibitive. This has discouraged widespread helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG). As equipment prices tumble, though, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, enabling us to seize more of this noble gas before it would normally be burned up.

So, as we said earlier, never fear. We do have viable options for securing more helium. And you can trust American Welding & Gas, Inc. here in Indianapolis to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.