Helium is a noble gas positioned second in the periodic table. Being in this category means it is mostly inactive. It is named after “Helios,” which when translated in Greek means “sun god.” Being the second lightest gas in the universe means even the gravitational force cannot hold the gas down on the ground level. This property makes it most appropriate to be in space. It has the lowest boiling and melting points. It is one of the rarest gases to get on earth. It results from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen and decomposition. The United States is the current largest supplier of helium gas since it has large deposits of it. Oil drilling operations also produce helium. Helium disappears into space when released to the atmosphere due to its light weight.
The following applications show the importance of helium.
Use in Air Floating Devices
Helium is number two in the periodic table and is also the second lightest gas. Therefore, helium is used as lift gas for balloons, meteorological balloons, and airships. Despite helium being twice as heavy as hydrogen, helium is the preferred lift gas because it is not flammable.
Welding and High-Temperature Furnace Equipment
Helium use as a shielding gas in arc welding and plasma arc welding is due to its highest ionization potential of any atom. The protective atmosphere of helium around the welding site prevents the metal from oxidizing in the molten state. The high ionization potential of helium enables the plasma arc welding of exotic metals such as titanium, zirconium, magnesium, and aluminum alloys used in construction, shipbuilding, and aerospace.
Medical and Use in Theater Equipment
Cryogenic machines use helium due to its density, coolant ability, and semiconductor properties. Helium is used as a coolant because helium has the lowest melting and boiling points of any element, and helium does not solidify at high atmospheric pressure. Helium also cools low-temperature superconducting materials and low-temperature superconducting magnets to a temperature close to absolute zero so that the electrical resistance of superconductors drops abruptly to zero. The slight electrical resistance of superconductors enables it to create stronger magnetic fields. In the case of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) equipment in hospitals, the more powerful magnetic fields help diagnose such things as cancer. Helium helps cool the super magnets in the MRI.
Fiber Optic Manufacturing Process
Helium is used as a coolant in fiber optic cable manufacturing due to its very high specific heat and thermal conductivity qualities. It also prevents bubbles from being trapped inside during the manufacturing process.
Nuclear Reactors, Heat Transfer Gadget
New generation nuclear reactors use helium in heat transfer. Helium has a very high specific heat and high thermal conductivity so that it is one of the most efficient heat transfer gases. Also, helium does not cause corrosion, and it is radiological inert. Helium also does not influence neutron multiplication factors. Nuclear plants with helium as a heat transfer medium have higher efficiency and higher operating temperatures.
Breathing Enhancer in Deep Diving and in Acute Breathing Disorder Wards
Helium is used as a deep sea diving gas at water depths below 30 m since it has extremely low solubility in water and blood. Helium with oxygen breathing mixtures such as Heliair and Trimix are used to avoid nitrogen narcosis or the buildup of nitrogen in the blood. Also, helium does not cause corrosion to the equipment, and it is not toxic.
Forms an Excellent Coating Since It Is Nonreactive
Thermal spraying and cold spraying require helium due to its extremely high speed, and it is chemically inert. Thermal spraying and cold spraying, also commonly known as metal spraying, are used as a surface coating at great velocities onto the surface of another material to create metal surfaces.
Leakage Detection in Locomotives and Machinery
Helium is used for leak detection because helium has the smallest molecular size, and it is likewise a monatomic molecule. Therefore, helium passes quickly through minor holes. During leak detection, an object is filled with helium; and in the case of a leak, a spectrometer will identify the leaking point. Helium provides for detecting leaks in rockets, fuel tanks, heat exchangers, gas lines, various electronic devices, television tubes, and other manufactured components.
Lasers, Lighting, and Other Digital Devices
Lasers and lighting equipment need helium. Use of helium in various applications of scientific research, holography, spectroscopy, barcode scanning, alignment, laser eye surgery, visual demonstrations, printing, and typesetting applications makes them efficient. Gas-discharge lamps also use helium for lighting. Helium emits colors from white to orange. Artists use helium gas-discharge lamps for special purpose lighting.
Telestereoscope, Binoculars, and Telescopes
Most of the optical instruments that use solar power to portray images perform well with helium tubes. Due to its efficacy in thermal conductivity, it ensures that there is little refraction and also protects the eyes.
Internal Storage Devices
Use of helium enhances hard drives’ efficiency. Helium being lighter than air allows the disks to be as close as possible to each other. The minimal space ensures there is minimal resistance and, thus, a more efficient storage device, and it is also power effective.