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  #11  
Old 24-06-2019, 01:01 PM
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Talking Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by Jimmy22 View Post
Hydrogen could be used, nothing bad ever happened to anything filled with hydrogen right?
Errr... let me go check the history books....!
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  #12  
Old 26-06-2019, 06:16 AM
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by OverTheTop View Post
I don't think it's quite that straightforward. From my (admittedly limited) knowledge on the topic, while helium and natural gas are often found in the same reserves, this is not always the case, and helium is still much rarer than natural gas by volume (by an order of magnitude). Combined with greater demand for helium for scientific, medical, and industrial purposes, I wouldn't be surprised if we're legitimately running out of usable helium reserves, rather than it just being a matter of not extracting it. All the sources I can find seem to support this as well.
Plant I'm doing some engineering work for in Kansas out of my Houston office has approx. 2.3% helium in the inlet gas and the company that owns the plant is treating this as a windfall. The gas is sweet (no deadly H2S) so they can recover the helium with minimal processing.
From what I understand 2-4% is pretty typical.
In southern Saskatchewan (province in western Canada), North Dakota and northern Montana they're discovering formations and drilling wells that are producing solely helium with very few impurities. So there is hope.
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Old 26-06-2019, 06:35 AM
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by BalloonBoyUK View Post
A lot of people have claimed that this is the case, but this isn't true, from my understanding.

Yes. science and medicine use helium, but the helium used for balloons and balloon gas, isn't the pure helium. It's the waste helium that can't be used for science/medicine. So, despite claims, the helium we use is actually gas that can't be used for anything serious. Ergo, we're not wasting it by reusing it. It's a form of recycling.

But to see the prices go up so much, is insane! I don't mind some fluctuation, but prices going up 30% to 50% is just taking the mickey, in my view.
They're upgrading plants to reprocess "off-spec" (waste) helium and purify it to medicine/research/aerospace standards. The helium sold for balloons is helium that doesn't meet specific standards that was previously too expensive to reprocess so it made more sense to sell it as "balloon gas". Now, with the rising cost of helium, the ever-growing demand for and value of pure helium it's beginning to make financial sense for the producers to reprocess this He to specification meaning less of it will be available for balloon use. It's not going to disappear entirely but it's going to put a big squeeze on the balloon helium supply in the coming years.

You're already seeing it with these rising costs.

My firm is working on the engineering of a couple of these helium plant upgrades for some of the major producers as we speak. 2 In the United States, one in Qatar and one in Russia. I'm not personally involved, but I'm in the meetings and I get the e-mails.

Balloon use is the very bottom of the Helium totem pole. They will absolutely re-allocate balloon helium for medical and scientific use as the supply gets more and more scarce. Mankind is using more and more every day. Supplies are getting quite taxed. Then when a major producer has a plant turnaround (maintenance shutdown) or an outage the supply gets strained more yet. Thus driving the price up.

There are scientists that are calling for an immediate halt to the use of helium in balloons. I disagree, of course, but I can see the writing on the wall.

It's sad, and I personally love having helium balloons at will, but trust me, my friends, those balloons are going to become a seriously expensive luxury in the coming years. Unless we can somehow synthesize it ourselves, which, with current technology, is highly unlikely.
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Old 26-06-2019, 06:38 AM
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
I haven't exchanged my 300 cubic foot cylinder since the beginning of Feb and still have 1600 PSIG to go on the one I have so I imagine this fall or late summer I'll be in for a shock when I get my fresh cylinder.
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Old 26-06-2019, 12:01 PM
Smothered by tits Smothered by tits is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by Jimmy22 View Post
Hydrogen could be used, nothing bad ever happened to anything filled with hydrogen right?
Yea just don't light up near it and hope that the static doesn't build up and you should be fine.
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Old 27-06-2019, 01:26 AM
OverTheTop OverTheTop is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
What defines "waste" helium? As a noble gas, it seems like it would be fairly easy to separate helium from potential contaminants, if that's the issue.
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Old 27-06-2019, 12:41 PM
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by OverTheTop View Post
What defines "waste" helium? As a noble gas, it seems like it would be fairly easy to separate helium from potential contaminants, if that's the issue.

As others have said, the basic gist of Helium, is that it can be either pure or impure. The pure stuff goes towards industrial usage, like medicine and engineering. The not-so-pure stuff, that can't be cheaply processed or made pure enough to suit industrial usage, then gets split off and is sold as "balloon gas", or waste helium.

I don't know how you turn impure helium into pure helium, but it's some kind of process that usually costs money, and if the cost to purify it, versus the cost of what someone can make selling it isn't justifiable, then it'll get sold as "balloon gas".

It's frustrating that there's not another safe, non-toxic, non-flammable gas that we could use for balloons, that wouldn't cost as much as helium.

One day, maybe we'll discover or create something?!
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Old 27-06-2019, 12:44 PM
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by PBK View Post
I haven't exchanged my 300 cubic foot cylinder since the beginning of Feb and still have 1600 PSIG to go on the one I have so I imagine this fall or late summer I'll be in for a shock when I get my fresh cylinder.

A shock indeed! I'd recommend calling up your supplier, and just seeing what the prices will be increasing too, so that you can plan ahead and decide what you're going to do. It'll then give you time to either save-up the money, or accept the fact, you'll have to adjust to having less helium/smaller tanks for your money. The latter, is what I've had to do, as I just cannot pay a 50% increase for what is essentially something I have just to have fun with!
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Old 27-06-2019, 01:39 PM
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Just found this...

https://www.click4balloons.co.uk/hel...-2019-22-w.asp
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  #20  
Old 29-06-2019, 02:52 AM
OverTheTop OverTheTop is offline
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Default Re: The Inflated Cost of Helium!
Originally Posted by BalloonBoyUK View Post
As others have said, the basic gist of Helium, is that it can be either pure or impure. The pure stuff goes towards industrial usage, like medicine and engineering. The not-so-pure stuff, that can't be cheaply processed or made pure enough to suit industrial usage, then gets split off and is sold as "balloon gas", or waste helium.

I don't know how you turn impure helium into pure helium, but it's some kind of process that usually costs money, and if the cost to purify it, versus the cost of what someone can make selling it isn't justifiable, then it'll get sold as "balloon gas".

It's frustrating that there's not another safe, non-toxic, non-flammable gas that we could use for balloons, that wouldn't cost as much as helium.

One day, maybe we'll discover or create something?!
That doesn't really answer my question. What specifically is "impure" helium? Aside from uncommon (I'm assuming) ions, helium won't bond to form molecules with other elements, and with it being so light relative to other gases it's found with, it should be trivial to separate it.
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