How is Helium extracted at Weldstar

As of late there has been plenty discussion surrounding the apparent lack of Helium obtainable in Northern Illinois and elsewhere around the world. This causes concern seeing that this gas is utilized throughout multiple industries in Northern Illinois. 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 protective atmosphere

Helium is a byproduct of radioactive decay in natural gas. Therefore since natural gas has the most amounts of helium, most specialty gas laboratories like Weldstar will obtain Helium via natural gas. There are also trace amounts of helium in the air which can also be obtained, however the process for that is expensive and rarely used.

Typically helium is separated from natural gas through a cryogenic piping system. The natural gas is pressurized, and then passed through a sieve. Throughout the entire progression, 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 crude helium is then cooled to -315 degrees Fahrenheit so that any residual nitrogen or methane gases become liquefied and can be simply drained from the gas. The heat on the helium is then increased and oxygen is added to the gas so that any remaining particles of hydrogen will mix with the oxygen creating water. Once the water vapors are formed, the mixture is decreased and the water is withdrawn from the mixture.

Once the water has been removed, the Helium then goes into vessels filled with tiny particles for additional sanitization of the gas (think of the carbon water filters in most homes in Northern Illinois today). This activity is repeated until the Helium is 99.99% pure specialty gas.

We at Weldstar take this purification process very serious as multiple industries, from the healthcare 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 purest Helium in Northern Illinois, contact Weldstar today.