Lab Gas Price Bulletin
As of January 1st 2018, helium is going to be more expensive.
Praxair, the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, has announced that it will be increasing its helium prices by up to 10%, effective from the 1st of January.
Helium prices will continue to increase in 2018
The company is notifying its customers of the impending increase which is thought to be a response to cost inflation impacting both crude and refined helium. In the US, The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which manages the world's largest helium reserve, has announced higher prices and higher distribution costs so the price increase from Praxair is unsurprising. Another worrying issue for helium users is the depletion of the BLM reserve which has seen the USA's share of helium resourcing falling steadily, decreasing by almost 20% between 2011 and 2015. This has led to the USA having to import more and more helium, something it has rarely done since records began back in 1985. This rise in imports is likely to continue as US stocks decline and demand remains.
Helium price increases are bad news for those labs which depend on it for their GC analysis, but there is an alternative available. For GC carrier gas, hydrogen offers laboratories an equivalent level of sensitivity to helium but allows for faster speed of analysis, leading to an overall improvement in workflow. Unlike helium, a finite resource which evaporates into the atmosphere upon use, hydrogen is sustainable and can be generated on demand using a gas generator. Switching from bottled helium supply to a hydrogen gas generator does not only ensure an uninterrupted supply of GC carrier gas, it also brings many safety and time-saving benefits to laboratories where staff no longer have to monitor, change and transport heavy and cumbersome gas cylinders.
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