0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Do other countries have it, but just haven't invested in the recovery?
Helium separation and recovery Helium is recovered from natural gas resources. Natural gas can contain helium concentrations ranging from zero to over six percent (v/v). Helium has become an important strategic gaseous mineral and recent shortages have seen the price of helium double .Helium production has been dominated by the United States (US). The US has (had) a series of gas wells in the south-west of the country that had exceptionally high helium concentrations. The helium was associated with carbon dioxide, nitrogen and hydrocarbons. In some instances helium was the only recovered product from the wells. In the last twenty years, the dominance of the US in helium production and supply has diminished. Now such countries as Russia, Australia, Algeria and Qatar have viable helium production units. In 2008 the US still produced around 80% of the World’s helium (and has substantial stored reserves) but this percentage is expected to fall with new plants coming on-line in Algeria, Australia and Qatar [1 & 2].The change from recovering helium from wells with high helium concentrations to wells with low helium (and now very low concentrations) has come about from the availability of LNG Off-gas with readily recoverable helium contents and the development of new technologies that can be applied to helium separation such as pressure swing adsorption (PSA).Gas wells with helium concentrations of greater than 0·3% can be commercialised essentially for their helium content . Other natural gas reserves with helium concentrations as low as 0·04% can have viable helium by-product streams. (In India, the processing of one such natural gas resource promises to make India self-sufficient with the strategic mineral helium .) With very low concentrations of helium in raw natural gas, the economic driver in making the LNG Off-gas a viable helium resource, is the very high concentration factor that can come through stripping out virtually all other gasses in the LNG process combined with large total throughputs of total gas through the LNG system.