How is Helium extracted at Greco Gas

As of late there has been a lot of discussion around the apparent lack of Helium obtainable in Pittsburgh and elsewhere around the world. This causes concern seeing that this gas is utilized throughout multiple industries in Pittsburgh. 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 – used as a shielding atmosphere

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

Helium is sometimes removed 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, increased purification processes are required.

The crude helium is then cooled to -315 degrees Fahrenheit so that any residual nitrogen or methane gases become liquefied and can be easily drained from the gas. The heat on the helium is then turned up 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 cooled back down and the water is removed from the mixture.

Once the water has been drained, the Helium is poured into crates filled with tiny particles to further sterilize the gas (think of the carbon water filters in most homes in Pittsburgh today). This activity is repeated until the Helium is 99.99% pure specialty gas.

We at Greco Gas 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 Pittsburgh, contact Greco Gas today.