How is Helium extracted at Wright Brothers

Lately there has been a lot of conversation surrounding the apparent lack of Helium obtainable in Cincinnati and elsewhere around the world. This causes concern considering that this gas is utilized throughout multiple industries in Cincinnati. Uses for the gas include:

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

Helium is a result of radioactive decay in natural gas. Therefore since natural gas has the most volume of helium, most specialty gas laboratories like Wright Brothers will get Helium via natural gas. There are also trace amounts of helium in the air which can also be mined, however the process for that is expensive and rarely used.

Helium is sometimes extracted from natural gas through a cryogenic piping system. The natural gas is pressurized, and then passed through a sieve. Throughout the entire procedure, helium is separated from natural gas so that only crude helium remains. At this point, since the crude helium is only about 50% pure, more purification processes are needed.

The crude helium is then diminished to -315 degrees Fahrenheit so that any residual nitrogen or methane gases become liquefied and can be easily 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 Once the water vapors are formed, the mixture is cooled back down and the water is withdrawn from the mixture.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 then goes into vessels filled with tiny particles to further purify the gas (think of the carbon water filters in most homes in Cincinnati today). The process is repeated until the Helium is 99.99% pure specialty gas.

We at Wright Brothers take this purification process very serious as multiple industries, from the medical 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 purest Helium in Cincinnati, contact Wright Brothers today.