Helium Shortage Creates Need for Reclaim Compressors

Whether you have noticed or not, a global shortage in helium (He) has existed since May of 2012. Have you recently tried to buy a floating balloon for your kid’s birthday party? You will have a hard time finding helium to fill the balloons and if you do, it is very expensive to purchase. This shortage has now reached a level the U.S. Government describes as a crisis. While the causes are many, the net result is helium prices are skyrocketing while supply is diminishing.

While helium is abundant in the universe, it is rare on earth. This gas is created when heavy elements like uranium radioactively decay in the earth’s crust. Most helium atoms diffuse to the surface and escape the earth’s atmosphere. Only a small percent of helium atoms are trapped in the Earth’s crust, much like natural gas. Helium extraction becomes economically viable in a select few deposits. Currently, the annual global use of helium is larger than the amount produced. This situation is convincing many companies to recover the helium rather than vent the gas into the atmosphere.

This is where Hycomp helium compressors have become a popular solution. Hycomp’s oil free compression keeps the gas stream pure. Our gas packing arrangement keeps O2 and other contaminants from ingressing into the gas flow. Our unique self-adjusting tangent/tangent gas packing arrangement enables Hycomp to maintain purity. One customer reported less than 5 parts per billion of oxygen.

Hycomp creates an extremely efficient piston ring seal by using our unique ‘L’ style piston ring designed around a proprietary material formulated specifically for helium.

Helium generates high heat in compression. Hycomp Engineers address this challenge utilizing low compression ratios and liquid cooling.

Demand for Hycomp helium compressors has increased dramatically over the past few months and we anticipate this trend will continue. Here are a few sample applications where helium is used:

Metal Processing
Oil and Gas Production
Offshore Industrial Diving (Heliox)
Semiconductor Manufacturing
Healthcare (MRI)
Glass/Mineral Production
Nuclear Energy Generation
Many Others

If you have questions concerning helium compressors, or any compressor for that matter, please contact Hycomp and ask for Ken Schiefer or Ben Brough.