How is Helium extracted at Cryo-Source

In the news there has been plenty dialogue around the apparent lack of Helium accessible in Portland and elsewhere around the world. This causes concern considering that this gas is utilized throughout multiple industries in Portland. 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 byproduct of radioactive decay in natural gas. Therefore since natural gas has the most amounts of helium, most specialty gas laboratories like Cryo-Source will extract Helium via natural gas. There are also limited amounts of helium in the air which can also be mined, 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 travels through a sieve. During this scrubbing activity, 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 needed.

The temperature on the helium is decreased 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 Once the water vapors are formed, the mixture is decreased and the water is withdrawn from the mixture.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 filtering of the gas (think of the carbon water filters in most homes in Portland today). This activity is repeated until the Helium is 99.99% pure specialty gas.

We at Cryo-Source 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 purest Helium in Portland, contact Cryo-Source today.