So Whats Up with Helium?


Its reserves are dwindling – right? That, at least, is the news that’s been circulating for the last few years. With only a handful of studies as evidence, it was deduced that the world supply of helium (He) is being used up at a frightful rate and will soon be gone. (Well, all right, that could take two or three more centuries, but why wait until things get out of hand, eh?)

We’re not prepared to tell you a global helium shortage is hogwash; some evidence bears out the idea. We are prepared, though, to assure you that Elite Air in Riverside and the PurityPlus® partner network of 150-plus specialty gas producers and distributors at 600 loctions nationwide can easily satisfy your helium needs well into the future. We’re also intent on spreading a little good news about the world’s helium reserves. The gist of it is that there’s no reason to fret that there isn’t adequate helium for your professional needs. Rest easy; you’ll have a lot of it to facilitate each and every analytical task you typically perform, whether in the realm of gas chromatography, spectroscopy, or mass spectrometry. The helium so essential for the operation of MRI scanners, for the production of semiconductors and superconductors, for diverse space industry applications, and for hi-tech facilities conducting nuclear research is quickly available – and will remain so – from Elite Air.

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

  • Certain geological territories have shown groundwater transporting huge volumes of helium into natural gas fields and trapping it there.
  • Deep helium, outgassed in the emergence of mountain ranges on the order of the Rockies, has percolated via groundwater into below-ground|]111] reservoirs where natural gas is found also.
  • In areas where volcanic activity is prevalent, plenty of heat is produced in seismic disturbances to release helium from typical gas-trapping rock formations deeper underground into reservoirs in closer proximity 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 awkward if not outright dangerous.

What these findings insinuate is 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’re aware of is showing us where to prospect for new helium resources.

Still, there are some who contend that there isn’t any helium crisis, that helium is continually produced in nature, and simply liquifying more natural gas would permit us to extract higher quantities of helium from it. It’s true that helium is extracted from natural gas via condensation. But the equipment required to do it has so far remained financially daunting. This has kept helium extraction from liquified natural gas (LNG) at a minimum. As equipment prices tumble, though, more helium extraction kits can be added to wells, allowing us to release more of this noble gas before it would normally be burned up.

So, again, never fear. We do have practical options for securing more helium. And you can depend on Elite Air here in Riverside to have the helium you need – whether as a coolant, a pressurizer, or a cleaning agent – whenever and wherever you need it.