So Whats Up with Helium?


It’s in short supply – right? That, anyway, is the news that’s been out there over the last few years. With only a handful of studies as evidence, it was inferred that the international supply of helium (He) is being depleted at a frightful rate and will soon disapper altogether. (Well, all right, that could take several hundred years, but why mark time until things get out of hand, eh?)

We’re not prepared to try convincing you a global helium shortage is baloney; some evidence bears out the conviction. We are prepared, though, to assure you that Greco Gas in Pittsburgh and the PurityPlus® partner network of over 150 specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 loctions across the states can readily satisfy your helium needs well into the future. We’re also intent on spreading a bit of positive news about the world’s helium reserves. The upshot is that there’s no reason to fret that there isn’t adequate helium for your professional needs. Relax; you’ll have a wealth of it to facilitate each analytical task you ordinarily perform, be it in the realm of gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so essential for the operation of MRI scanners, for the assembly of semiconductors and superconductors, for all sorts of space industry applications, and for hi-tech firms conducting nuclear research is immediately available – and will remain so – from Greco Gas.

The cheering 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 regions have shown groundwater conveying huge volumes of helium into natural gas fields and trapping it there.
  • Deep helium, let loose in the creation of mountain ranges on the order of the Rockies, has filtered via groundwater into subterrestrial reservoirs where natural gas is found also.
  • In places of volcanic activity, ample heat is produced in seismic turbulence to release helium from common gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs nearer to the earth’s surface. Obviously, it’s easier to access there – unless it’s too close to a volcano, which would make its harvesting complicated.

What these findings insinuate is that, 1) we’ve long underestimated how much helium is actually available to us, and 2) understanding the processes by which helium gets trapped in the natural reservoirs we know about is revealing where to explore for new helium resources.

That said, there are some who argue that there’s no helium crisis, that helium is continually produced in nature, and simply liquifying more natural gas would allow us to extract higher quantities of helium from it. To be sure, helium is gotten from natural gas through condensation. But the equipment needed to do it has so far remained cost-prohibitive. This has disincentivized widespread helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG). As equipment prices tumble, though, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, letting us release more of this noble gas before it would otherwise be burned up.

So, to restate the case, don’t [fret|worry|despair|freak out]173]. We do have practical options for obtaining more helium. And you can count on Greco Gas here in Pittsburgh to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.