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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access March 25, 2019

Helium in Natural Gas - Occurrence and Production

  • Eugene Grynia EMAIL logo and Peter J. Griffin

Abstract

Helium is produced from natural gas by treatment of vent gas from Nitrogen Rejection Units or LNG plants. There are 16 liquid helium plants in the world, 7 of which are outside of the United States. There are at least six industrial (specialty) gas companies in the world that have direct access to sources of helium: Air Liquide, Air Products, Linde, Matheson, Messer and Praxair. Conventional helium plants use cryogenic distillation to produce crude helium followed by PSA to purify it for liquefaction.

There was a period of helium shortage in 2011–2014 which caused more efficient use of helium and helium recycling. The world is now experiencing a period of too much supply of helium, and new helium plants will come online in Qatar and Russia in 2018 and beyond. The global helium demand in 2016 is estimated at 5.9 Bcf, and the supply is around 6.0 Bcf.

Helium plays an important role in modern industry and medicine. There are many applications for helium, but the single largest application is in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which accounts for around 30% of all helium usage.

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Received: 2016-11-28
Accepted: 2016-11-29
Published Online: 2019-03-25
Published in Print: 2016-12-01

© 2016 Eugene Grynia et al., published by Sciendo

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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