Where Are Helium Gas Cylinders Used?
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but not the most accessible, and definitely not plentiful on Earth. The 45% of helium that comes from the sun can in no way be accessed in a useful manner. It is called a noble gas as it hardly interacts with other elements. It has many useful properties like non-toxicity, lack of smell, taste and colour, low liquidation point, etc., making it one of the most used gases in many industries. Hence, many sectors purchase helium cylinders as it is an important part of their business and manufacturing operations.
The low liquidation point of helium enables it to create the lowest-temperature operating refrigerant. However, using liquid helium for this purpose is not very efficient. Also, there is immense trouble in containing the element in its liquid state due to its superfluid properties. Although it is non-toxic, inhaling too much helium can cause asphyxiation.Due to these properties, most industries get helium cylinders for use in various applications.
Helium gas is used in the field of medicine, scientific research, party balloons, blimp inflation, welding applications, supermarket checkouts, iPhones, in detecting tricky cancers, etc. Let us see some applications of helium gas and its use across various industries.
The medical industry uses helium canisters for breathing observation. This plays a vital role in treating diseases like emphysema, asthma and other similar conditions that impact breathing. MRI scans also use liquid helium, but only after the element is set at -296 degree celsius to make it usable for MRI. Helium gas is also used to treat diseases that affect the lungs, as it helps patients breathe easier.
When helium gas is mixed with oxygen at a ratio of 40% helium, the mixture is used for individuals suffering from conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Patients suffering from respiratory problems find it difficult to exercise, affecting their overall well-being. So helium gas can be used as it makes it easier for them to breathe.
Most welders must have experimented with helium solutions, whether working with TIG or MIG welding gas. Adding a little helium into the mixture creates interesting effects on the weld. One use of helium gas is to prevent chemicals from causing an explosion. This property of helium is very helpful in welding. Since it has a high heat transfer and inert properties make it a great shielding gas. A high heat transfer rate means faster welding with better beads. Helium generally does this job better than argon. But since helium is expensive, most welders usually blend a small percentage of helium into an argon mix. This also helps in keeping the welds smooth without breaking the bank. Also, high-quality shielding gas regulators should be used during welding as it is an important resource, and you can maximise your supply.
Compressed Air Tanks
The helium tanks that scuba divers use help them breathe underwater, much like their application in medical conditions.
Interestingly, helium has also found its way into the tech industry. The fibre optic cables that deliver Internet access and television are manufactured inside a pure helium atmosphere so that no air bubbles are trapped inside the wires. Moreover, your tablets, smartphones, and computers have semiconductor chips whose role is to transfer and point electrical currents on devices for performing specific functions. Helium gas plays an important part in manufacturing these semiconductors in four ways. Its applications in this process include its use as a dilutant gas for plasma etching, a carrier gas for deposition processes, a leak detector, and a specialised cooling process. Television, phones, computers, video games, and solar panels rely on these semiconductors, which manufacture helium.
Nearly all space shuttle missions have used helium as a fuel and to clean the fuel tanks once they are emptied. Due to its inert nature, it does not react and combust with any remaining traces of oxygen that may be left behind in the tank. Also, it does not freeze in the pipes like other liquids if used to clean the tanks.
The next-generation nuclear reactors also called ‘Pebble Bed Reactors’, which are high-temperature reactors and are said to be safer and more affordable than traditional ones, use helium gas to produce heat. The helium gas is passed through the turbines to reach the core containing pebbles of uranium.
Leak detection is one of the most crucial applications of helium gas. This is because it diffuses through solids three times faster than air. Since it is hard to contain, it can be used to detect leaks in air-conditioning systems in cars, the hulls of ships, and other high-pressure equipment like cryogenic systems and vacuums.
Computer Hard Drives
The main purpose of helium in computer hard drives is to remember files. Helium-filled hard drives are faster, lighter, and cooler than regular air-filled ones. They also have a 50% higher storage capacity and use 23% less power. A single tank of helium can produce 10,000 hard drives.
These are some of the most common and important applications of helium gas. If you need a helium gas cylinder, ensure you get it from the right vendor to avoid any unpleasant experiences.