Peak Scientific - helium in the lab alternaitve gas supply

Global Helium Shortage

Solutions to the helium shortage for Gas Chromatography Applications


With only three sources producing 75% of the world’s helium supply leading to a skyrocketing 135% increase in helium prices in 2018 – it’s not only party balloon suppliers suffering, but it’s also major industries - including gas chromatography research - that are now seeking solutions to the helium shortage crisis. The worldwide demand for helium supply shows no signs of abating, and the helium shortage is posing a global threat. The helium shortage is anticipated to affect major industries in countries with a high demand for helium gas, such as China and Japan, as well as European countries, such as the UK.

The world’s helium supply could run out within a decade and plans for prevention of another helium shortage are in motion. Recycling of helium has been pushed forward as a tenable solution. However, the costs involved in programs for helium recycling have proven to be extremely expensive for a number of businesses relying on helium for their daily processes, and so the search for helium fields continues.

Helium prices on the rise

PEAK Precision: The alternative to a pressing problem of helium supply shortage

Fortunately, for certain industries, such as laboratories using gas chromatography, alternatives to helium supply do exist and can be made readily available. If you’re looking into switching to nitrogen or hydrogen generators are an effective substitute for helium as a carrier gas.

PEAK Scientific’s Precision series is a long-term solution to the helium supply shortage for GC analysis, guaranteeing optimum in-house gas delivery. Analyses will no longer have to be put on hold due to an empty helium gas tank and the days of ordering and organizing deliveries will be long gone. PEAK Scientific’s Precision series are also an invaluable safe alternative to a pressurized helium cylinder. Gas generators, including nitrogen and hydrogen generator systems, store very low volumes of gas, operating at low pressures. This ensures that the risks of danger are reduced to a bare minimum by limiting the amount of gas which can be released into the atmosphere. The internal leak detectors with automatic shutdown features also account for any risks sensed by the hydrogen gas generator.

The Precision Hydrogen Trace gas generators as an alternative to helium for GC and GC-MS applications also come with added benefits over the use of helium.

Precision Hydrogen Trace 1200 Hydrogen Generator

Benefits of replacing helium with hydrogen for GC carrier gas:

• Increased sampling speed
• Cost effective, readily-available, environmentally-friendly gas
• Temperature can be controlled and adjusted and lowered accordingly
• The costs involved in using hydrogen are much lower than helium

Cost-effective alternatives to helium for gas chromatography

Carrier gas velocity

Nitrogen gas is another option for GC carrier gas and PEAK's Precision Nitrogen Trace generator ensures your analysis high-purity gas which can be produced through compressed air, on demand.

Van Deemter's graph on the left shows the velocity of the three gases - nitrogen, hydrogen and helium. Although at a lower speed than helium, nitrogen provides the best possible separation efficiency, followed by hydrogen, and with an adjusted speed when using a shorter column with a narrower diameter.

Precision Nitrogen 1000 Nitrogen Generators

Benefits of using nitrogen for GC carrier gas:

• High in abundance and readily available
• Costs are much lower when working with nitrogen due to in-house production
• Higher separation efficiency when compared to helium and hydrogen
• Analyses can be quickened using a column with a shorter and narrower internal diameter

Dr Ed Connor, GC product specialist at Peak, talks about the Precision series

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