So Whats Up with Helium?


Its reserves are dwindling – right? That, in any case, is the news that’s been disseminated for the last few years. With only a handful of studies as evidence, it was inferred that the global supply of helium (He) is being used up at an alarming rate and will soon run out. (Well, all right, it may take another two, maybe three, centuries, but why mark time until things get out of hand, eh?)

We’re not ready to tell you a global helium shortage is silly; some evidence bears out the notion. We’re more than ready, though, to assure you that Toll Company in Minneapolis and the PurityPlus® partner network of 150-plus specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 installations across the country are more than able to fulfill your helium needs well into the future. We also want to spread a little cheer about the world’s helium reserves. The upshot is that there’s no reason to fret that there isn’t enough helium for your professional needs. Take it from us; you’ll have lots of it to facilitate every analytical task you normally perform, whether in the field of gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so essential for the operation of MRI scanners, for the manufacture of semiconductors and superconductors, for various space industry applications, and for hi-tech facilities involved in nuclear research is immediately available – and will continue to be – from Toll Company.

The positive news about global helium reserves is that there may really be more of them than we realized existed. According to more-recent studies:

  • A few geological areas have shown groundwater moving huge volumes of helium into natural gas fields and trapping it there.
  • Deep helium, let loose in the genesis of mountain ranges like the Rockies, has leaked via groundwater into below-ground|]111] reservoirs where natural gas is found too.
  • In areas where volcanic eruptions are the norm, sufficient heat is produced in seismic upheavals to release helium from common gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs in closer proximity to the earth’s surface. Obviously, it’s simpler to get at there – unless it’s too close to a volcano, which would make its removal problematic.

The implications of these findings are that, 1) we’ve long underestimated how much helium is truly available to us, and 2) understanding why helium gets trapped in the natural reservoirs we’ve discoved is revealing where to prospect for new helium resources.

Nevertheless, there are some who contend that there’s no helium crisis, that helium is continually produced in nature, and just liquifying more natural gas would make it possible for us to extract higher quantities of helium from it. Yes, helium is gotten from natural gas through condensation. But the equipment necessary to do it has thus far remained pricey. This has disincentivized widespread helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG). As equipment prices fall, though, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, enabling us to capture 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 reasonable options for obtaining more helium. And you can count on Toll Company here in Minneapolis to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.