|Publisher||Society of Petroleum Engineers [successor to Petroleum Society of Canada]||Language||English
|Content Type||Journal Paper|
Helium Prospects for Canada
G.A.D. Reed, Canadian Liquid Air Ltd.
|Journal||Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology|
|Volume||Volume 5, Number 1||Pages||38-41|
1966.Petroleum Society of Canada
Helium is a space-age engineering material used for: the refrigeration of communications equipment (telestar); welding space-age metals such as titanium and magnesium, as well as aluminum; and as a heat transfer medium in experimental atomic reactors. It is also used in shock-tube tests, leak detectors, as a carrier gas in chromatographs, in space simulators, in meteorological balloons and in upper air research. Canadian helium is marketed on a world-wide basis. It is produced in Saskatchewan by the liquefaction of a gas mixture which is principally nitrogen. Shipping helium in liquid form may provide sufficient savings in handling costs to reduce the cost to the consumer.
Canadian helium prospects are related particularly to the sole Canadian producer, in fact the sole helium producer in the Western World outside the United States. Canadian Helium Limited, with a recovery plant located near Swift Current, Saskatchewan.
Helium is an inert rare gas, and the second lightest element known. Prof. H.J. Lockyer, the astronomer, discovered it 97 years ago in the spectrum of the sun, and in 1905 researchers at the University of Kansas identified it in natural gas. The era of the space age and the demands for atomic energy, however, have elevated helium from a role as simply a balloon-filling gas to that of an exotic engineering material.
There is a market for helium in nearly every industrialized country of the world. Russia supplies the needs of the communist world. Until the Canadian plant went onstream in late 1963, all of the free world's supply of helium was provided by the United States. Since the first world war, helium has been a strategic war material and the United States has restricted its export. In fact, export licences approved by the Secretary of State are required. As late as 1962, the amount exported from the U.S. for approved scientific and medical uses was approximately 9 million standard cubic feet, with more than 3.0 million cubic feet going to Canada.
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