How is Helium extracted at GTW

Lately there has been much dialogue around the apparent lack of Helium available in Western Michigan and elsewhere around the world. This causes concern given that this gas is utilized throughout multiple industries in Western Michigan. Uses for the gas include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Lifting gas – for hot air balloons and smaller recreational balloons
  • Breathing Mixtures – for deep-water diving and medical applications
  • Welding Gas – utilized as a shielding atmosphere

Helium is a result of radioactive decay in natural gas. Therefore since natural gas has the most amounts of helium, most specialty gas laboratories like GTW will extract Helium via natural gas. There are also small amounts of helium in the air which can also be obtained, however the process for that is expensive and rarely used.

Typically helium is segregated from natural gas through a cryogenic piping system. The natural gas is pressurized, and then travels through a sieve. During this scrubbing process, helium is separated from natural gas so that only crude helium remains. At this point, since the crude helium is only about 50% pure, further purification processes are warranted.

The crude helium is then diminished to -315 degrees Fahrenheit so that any residual nitrogen or methane gases become liquefied and can be simply drained from the gas. The heat on the helium is then increased and oxygen is added to the gas so that any remnant traces of hydrogen will mix with the oxygen creating water. Once the water vapors are formed, the mixture is cooled back down and the water is withdrawn from the mixture.

Once the water has been removed, the Helium is poured into vessels filled with tiny particles to further sterilize the gas (think of the carbon water filters in most homes in Western Michigan today). The process is repeated until the Helium is 99.99% pure specialty gas.

We at GTW take this filtering process very serious as multiple industries, from the healthcare industry to the food & beverage industry, rely on our specialty gases for the best possible experience.

To learn more on how your company can get the most genuine Helium in Western Michigan, contact GTW today.