What is Helium and How is it Used in Welding and Other Industries?
Helium. It’s one of the most abundant elements in the universe, yet the vast majority of people only know the gas for its practical applications in blowing up balloons and blimps.
In fact, helium is an industrial gas with far-reaching applications, from medical, technology, welding and science.
With that in mind, in this blog we’re going to discuss what helium is, where it comes from and how it can be used in a range of industrial applications.
What is helium?
Helium is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, non-toxic and non-flammable gas that can be used in its purest form or mixed with other industrial gases in a range of industrial applications.
Helium is most commonly used as a shield for the weld pool in welding applications, and can be used on its own or mixed with argon and other industrial gases. This addition of helium to the weld pool can increase welding speeds and improve welder productivity.
Helium is considered to be one of the ‘noble gases’, alongside neon, argon and others with similar properties.
Where does helium come from?
Helium is lighter than other gases in the atmosphere, meaning there’s nothing to stop it travelling out of the atmosphere and into space. For this reason, helium is extremely abundant in space.
Helium on earth is created as a result of other changes occurring below the crust of the earth. These particles rise through the earth’s crust and into the atmosphere until it reaches space. However, some helium doesn’t escape the earth’s crust and becomes part of the natural gas fields.
As a result, helium is separated from the natural gas that we’re already extracting from the earth’s crust.
Helium’s applications as an industrial gas
As we mentioned before, helium has a wide range of industrial applications. Here are a few examples.
Shielding in welding: Helium has a lower density than argon, which means higher flow rates can be used when welding with helium. This makes it possible to increase welding speeds in some circumstances through the use of helium. While helium is more expensive than other industrial gases, that cost can be offset by faster weld speeds and improved productivity.
A cooling source for MRIs and electronics: Helium has the lowest boiling point of any element and can’t be solidified by lowering the temperature. It’s for this reason why helium is a popular choice as a cooling source for MRIs and electronics.
Detecting leaks in a range of industries: Helium has the ability to diffuse through solids three times faster than air, making it the perfect gas to effectively identify potential leaks. That’s why helium is used by a range of industries to detect leaks, from HVAC units, shipping and vacuums.
Technology: Helium has a wide range of applications in the technology industry alone, from being used in the manufacturing process of fiber optic internet cables, making up a part of the computer hard drive, as well as being used in the creation of mobile phone chips.
Where can I get helium in Ontario?
Is your business in need of helium or other industrial gases in Ontario? Simcoe Gases is here to help!
With a combined industry experience of well over 150 years and the online independently-owned and operated compressed has, welding supply, and draft beer system installation/maintenance business in Central Ontario, we can help fill all of your industrial gas needs.
We provide industrial gases - such as helium, oxygen, acetylene, argon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and many others - to areas including the Simcoe region, Greater Toronto Area and Central Ontario.
Get in touch with us today and learn how we can help.