So Whats Up with Helium?


We haven’t got much left – 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 reckoned that the world supply of helium (He) is being consumed at a dangerous rate and will soon disapper altogether. (Well, yeah, that could take another two, maybe three, centuries, but why hold off until things get out of hand, eh?)

We’re not here to assure you there’s no such thing as a global helium shortage; some evidence supports the perception. We are here, though, to assure you that Cryo-Source in Portland and the PurityPlus® partner network of 150-plus specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 installations nationwide are more than able to take care of your helium needs well into the future. We’re also intent on spreading a little good news about the world’s helium reserves. The point of it is that you haven’t any reason to fear that there isn’t enough helium for your professional needs. Trust us; you’ll have lots of it to facilitate each and every analytical task you normally perform, whether in the field of gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so indispensable for the operation of MRI scanners, for the assembly of semiconductors and superconductors, for a variety of space industry applications, and for hi-tech outfits conducting nuclear research is quickly available – and will continue to be – from Cryo-Source.

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, liberated in the genesis of mountain ranges such as the Rockies, has percolated via groundwater into subterranean reservoirs where natural gas is found also.
  • In places where volcanic eruptions are the norm, ample heat is produced in seismic upheavals to release helium from conventional gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs in closer proximity to the earth’s surface. Obviously, it’s easier to get at there – unless it’s too close to a volcano, which would make its removal 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 of which we’re aware is disclosing where to prospect for new helium resources.

Still, there are some who firmly believe that a helium crisis isn’t upon us, that helium is constantly produced in nature, and just liquifying more natural gas would make it possible for us to extract higher quantities of helium from it. Certainly helium is gotten from natural gas through condensation. But the equipment necessary to do it has thus far remained costly. This has disincentivized widespread helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG). As equipment prices go down, though, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, letting us draw out more of this noble gas before it would otherwise be burned up.

So, as we said earlier, don’t [fret|worry|despair|freak out]173]. We do have practical options for collecting more helium. And you can trust Cryo-Source here in Portland to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.