What Is Helium
HELIUM: RARE AND VERSATILE
Helium, a non-combustible noble gas, is highly sought after in countless industries worldwide due to its unique properties, including being non-flammable, despite its rarity as the second most abundant element in the universe.
Applications of Helium
Helium is colourless, odourless, non-toxic, and inert. With the ability to reach close to absolute zero, as well as to transform into a superfluid, helium is incredibly vital for different uses.
Helium is vital to heliox and MRI machines, two medical innovations that provide relief and care to millions of people worldwide. Heliox is a breathing gas made of helium and Oxygen. It provides respiratory support for individuals that have difficulty breathing. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines generate images of the human body to detect, diagnose, and monitor health conditions. They require helium to cool their superconducting magnets. Each individual machine requires 800 litres of helium.
Being that it remains a gas at low temperatures of liquid hydrogen, it is quite beneficial for applications in aerospace. To force fuel into rocket engines, helium is necessary in pressurizing the structure of the rockets prior to takeoff. Helium is also utilized in space flight operations, where it is used to clean out hydrogen systems.
Whether it is an electronic device, like a mobile phone or computer hard drive, or the internet itself, helium is necessary for operational excellence. Helium-filled hard drives offer 50% higher storage capacity with 23% lower operating power. High-Speed Internet and fibre optic cables must be manufactured in a pure helium environment.
Airbags are filled with helium, which is non-combustible and non-toxic. It takes about 0.03 seconds for the airbag to inflate! Automobile developers rely on helium because it doesn’t produce heat when it inflates. This is vital to the safety of the driver and passengers in the event of an accident.
Which are used to detect, diagnose, and monitor health conditions, rely on helium to cool their superconducting magnets, which are responsible for generating images of the human body.
Liquid helium has such a low boiling point, making it useful for cryogenic applications below the nitrogen threshold. It’s considered a natural coolant because its properties keep cool over vast distances. Helium is the only element that can come close to reaching absolute zero. Cryogenics is present in recycling processes, freezing blood and tissue preservation, and cooling superconductors.
Helium filled hard drives offer 50% higher storage capacity with 23% lower operating power.
Since it can only operate at near zero temperatures, quantum computing is heavily reliant on helium. In fact, the most advanced quantum computers are submerged in liquid helium so that they can process up to 1 trillion different outcomes per second.
Helium in space is produced out of a fusion reaction that takes place inside of stars. Its earthly counterpart is produced deep inside the earth, by the decaying of radioactive elements like uranium and thorium.
There are two sources of helium: the Earth’s atmosphere and its exosphere, which contains small amounts of helium. Extracting helium from the atmosphere is highly inefficient and expensive due to its low concentration (five parts per million), making it impractical for extraction.
Since it is non-combustible, meaning it does not burn nor catch on fire easily, helium adds that extra layer of protection for use in potentially flammable situations like during space exploration.
Where to Find Helium?
Avanti Energy is focused on extracting helium from non-hydrocarbon sources throughout Western Canada and Montana.
The world, by no means, is running out of helium. Its reserves are simply being depleted. In reality, helium can be found wherever uranium is present and thus, most of the world’s helium is a byproduct of decaying uranium, trapped under hard, non-porous rock where it’s difficult to escape. To find the helium, we must drill wells, similar to what is done with other natural gasses. Once found, the helium is then purified by cryogenic, membrane, or pressure swing adsorption processes. The result is ultra-pure helium.
The National Helium Reserve, which is the world’s largest source of helium and has been for over the past seven decades, is now exhausted.
In other words, it is tired of producing helium. In accordance with the Helium Stewardship Act, which expires in September 2021, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is required to auction off all of the remaining reserves. With BLM leaving the market, so will the existing price ceiling.