Widely used in a range of common technologies as well as a growing range of innovative applications in advanced industries
A colorless, odorless, inert, non-toxic, non-flammable gas, which is lighter than air and has the lowest boiling point of all elements, making it essential for a wide range of innovative and advanced applications, including medical, technological and industrial.
Helium is today widely used in applications that are part of everyday life, including:
- Medical applications (magnetic resonance imaging - MRI)
- Computing applications (fast hard-drives)
- Industrial applications (welding)
- Automotive applications (inflating air-bags)
- Commercial and recreational applications (point-of-sale scanners, deep-sea diving air mixtures)
Helium is also used in a rapidly increasing range of high-tech and laboratory and research applications, including:
- Creating a protective atmosphere for manufacturing fibre optics and semiconductors
- Cooling in nuclear particle research
- High-resolution microscopes and a range of other instruments that require helium for scientific research
APPLICATIONS OF HELIUM %
Helium is critical to medical imaging, computing, space exploration, manufacturing, welding, commercial and recreational diving, research and military purposes. Magnetic imaging (MRI machines) currently represents the largest single use of helium, accounting for 20% of total demand. Welding applications make up 17% of total demand, while the rapidly expanding laboratory research sector make up 10%. Other major uses include lifting (8%), fibre optics (6%), purging/pressurizing (6%) and leak detection (5%), and electronics 4%.
Innovative High-Profile Projects
A number of high profile projects are also currently underway, which have the potential to boost the demand for helium and raise its profile as a valuable commodity, potentially sparking further use cases.
- Lockheed Martin’s hybrid airships program, which aims to create solutions for freight transport to and from remote areas
- Enhancing rocket technology for the Space X programme
- Google’s Project Loom, which aims to provide 100% global Wi-Fi coverage by launching thousands of helium-filled balloons carrying 4G antennas