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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Helium is a chemical element with symbol, He and atomic number 2. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table. Its boiling and melting points are the lowest among the elements and it exists only as a gas except in extreme conditions. Helium is present in the atmosphere at about 0.0005% (1 part in 200000) by volume and is an important component within hydrocarbon gases in the USA. Its origin in these gases is traced to the decay of radioactive elements in rocks.

Uses and Applications

Helium is used for filling balloons (blimps) and for pressurizing liquid fuel rockets. Helium is used as a gas shield in the vicinity of arc welding and in cryogenics, preventing, for example, any reaction of hot metal welds with oxygen. It is also used as a high temperature gas in titanium and zirconium production, and as a carrier gas in gas chromatography. Currently the healthcare industry is the largest consumer of helium. The gas is used in MRI machines to cool superconducting magnets, and would not function without the gas. Wind tunnels and impulse facilities use helium due to its inertness, and silicon growing is possible because helium is used as a protective gas. It’s also used in semiconductor manufacturing and NASA rockets. And of course, all modern airships – like the Goodyear Blimp – use helium to make them float, since the element is lighter than air.

 Market Survey

Helium, which is currently a byproduct of natural gas production, could actually switch to a primary drilling target in the next few years, reason being, the U.S. helium supply is declining, and demand is increasing. Global helium consumption is linked to strong growth in industrial demand. In the Middle East and India, this market is growing by more than 10% a year, driven by the growing demand from hospitals and oil activities. Industry executives believe that prices would need to increase significantly more to spur the development of more supplies, probably through expensive technologies for extraction of the gas.

Source: NPCS Team

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