“The helium shortage is affecting industry across the world, including here in New England. Maine Oxy continues to work with our suppliers to ensure a stable supply of helium for our current customers. We hope the crisis will ease in the next few months. Our priority continues to be focusing on providing quality products and exceptional service to all of Maine Oxy’s valued customers.”
President & CEO
Learn more about the shortage by clicking here.
What is helium?
Helium is an element known as a noble gas. It is colorless and odorless, and it is the second-lightest element in the Universe. While you may only associate helium with balloons, it is prevalent in many aspects of everyday life. Helium is also used in car airbags, smartphones, and medical equipment, to name a few.
Can we run out of helium?
Yes. Helium is a non-renewable resource. It is made on earth via nuclear decay of uranium, and it is recovered from mines.
Where is helium harvested?
The majority of the helium harvested comes from beneath the ground – commercially extracted from natural gas deposits – with about 75% coming from just three places: Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar, ExxonMobil in Wyoming and the National Helium Reserve in Texas, according to gas-trade publication Gasworld.com.
Can you make helium?
There is no chemical way of manufacturing helium. It costs around 10,000 times more to extract helium from air than it does from rocks and natural gas reserves.
Is there a substitute for helium in the welding process?
Argon can be used instead of Helium and is preferred for certain types of metal.
What are the uses of helium in everyday life?
Helium gas is used in a variety of different applications. It’s used to inflate blimps, scientific balloons and party balloons. It is used as an inert shield for arc welding, to pressurize the fuel tanks of liquid fueled rockets. It’s also a critical component in Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI scanners. Because helium gas doesn’t burn, it’s used as a coolant for nuclear reactors, cryogenic research and detecting gas leaks. Helium is also used by scuba divers, replacing nitrogen in their breathing mixtures, so that they can go deeper under water without negative central nervous system effects.
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