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Old 29-06-2019, 12:31 PM
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BalloonBoyUK BalloonBoyUK is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by OverTheTop View Post
That doesn't really answer my question. What specifically is "impure" helium?

Firstly, all I can offer up is this: as cylinders of pure helium are filled, the escaped helium gas mixes with air, which - in-turn - becomes impure helium, and this is captured and compressed into cylinders as balloon gas. Some manufacturers capture this impure helium when filling MRI scanners. Manufacturers have stated that this wasted helium is considered a ‘recycled product’ as it would have been lost to the environment had it not been captured and re-purposed. If the balloon market demand declined, manufacturers would have to re-evaluate other markets and consider the possibilities of re-liquefying it. Re-liquefying is currently considered uneconomical from the locations of where the filling application take place.

Pure helium is helium that is 99.9999% pure, and nearly reaches 100% purity for liquid application (at minus 269C) – balloon gas is far short of this. There is nothing stopping science and academic institutions using the mixed (impure) helium gas except the premium cost of re-processing the impure helium to pure helium as high purity is required in science and academia.

The only other thing I could find, that wasn't too technical is this quote from BOC - the British Oxygen Company - who sell helium in the UK. They say:

"It’s important to be aware that there is a distinction between pure, liquid helium and impure, gaseous helium. Gas companies prioritise supplies of pure, liquid helium for critical medical uses e.g MRI scanners in hospitals, ensuring that they can remain fully operational.

Helium for balloons is a different product – it is impure and gaseous and produced as a by-product of supplying liquid helium for the MRI market – a market which makes up about 40% of the helium business in the UK. Impure, gaseous helium cannot be used directly in medical MRI scanners or in other appliactions that use super-conducting magnets. Impure helium can be recovered by the customer and reliquified if the customer has the necessary plant on site, and if not, it can still be recovered and repurposed for use in the balloon market.

Industrial gas companies do support the recovery and reprocessing of helium to ensure that every opportunity is taken to recycle and reuse this important resource. Historically, recovery has only been viable for larger users of helium, but new opportunities are constantly being reviewed and implemented with customers to help them conserve and reuse their helium.

For the future, there is still plenty of helium on our planet, with investments being made to bring various new sources on-stream in the coming years. The locations and environments of these new sources will mean the market price for helium is expected to continue to rise, but making these investments will mean that helium will continue to be available for many years to come. Rising prices in the market will also drive an increase in investment in the means by which customers can recover more of their own helium.
"

As I'm not a scientist/engineer/tech person, I'm afraid this is the best I can do, I'm afraid.

Last edited by BalloonBoyUK; 29-06-2019 at 12:36 PM.
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  #22  
Old 29-06-2019, 04:22 PM
Eastlooner Eastlooner is offline
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Default Another interesting article
Look at this, the cost of ceasing party balluoons for us is high
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Old 29-06-2019, 04:24 PM
Eastlooner Eastlooner is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
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Old 01-07-2019, 06:27 AM
PBK PBK is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
I do look at the other side of things. I'm not saying balloon helium is going to disappear entirely soon. I'm saying it's only going to get more and more expensive.
The thing is, major balloon companies like Qualatex that supply balloons to the decoration/party industry (a multi-billion dollar industry) have lobbyists involved with the helium business because they know that a large percentage of the balloons they sell get filled with helium. There's a big market for helium balloons. Companies that sell helium balloons in their parks like Disney ain't gonna let them go away without a fight, either.
If helium was swiftly re-appropriated to scientific and medical needs exclusively, smaller balloons companies would probably fold and larger balloons companies like Qualatex would suffer major downfalls in sales resulting in financial losses. Qualatex, Maple City Rubber, Latex Occidental, etc aren't going to let that happen so they will do whatever it takes to make sure helium (whatever quality it may be) is available to the balloon market. It just might be that helium becomes something of a wealthy luxury and helium balloons aren't going to be something that everyone can afford.

On another note I just bought a fresh 300 cubic foot cylinder of helium and the price wasn't too much of a hike here...maybe $30 more than my previous cylinder I got 6 months ago.
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