Find a Stockist near you

Common Uses Of Helium Gas

Uses of Helium

Helium gas is used in medicine, scientific research, for blimp inflation, party balloons as well as having welding applications. Helium gas is incredibly useful and important to industries worldwide.

This blog will explain some of the most common (yet important) uses of helium to help you to understand why the earth’s helium reserves need to be closely monitored. We will look at what helium is, its use in medicine and welding and where helium is found.

There are some remarkable facts about helium, but the most common uses of helium gas are perhaps more astounding because they contextualise the importance of this commodity.

View our range of Helium canisters

What is Helium Gas?

Helium gas was first discovered by astronomers after a total solar eclipse in 1868. They discerned the sunlight around the eclipse had a wavelength of 587.49 nanometres. Since this time, we have discovered that it is the second most abundant element in the known universe – although not necessarily the most accessible or abundant property on the planet Earth. Approximately 45% of the sun is considered to be helium, but currently we have no way of accessing that.

Helium is referred to as a noble gas because it has not been observed to chemically interact with other elements, but it is also non-toxic and lacks any smell, taste or colouration. Despite this harmless sounding description, it isn’t completely without danger – inhaling too much helium can cause asphyxiation.

Another quality of helium is that its liquidation point is incredibly low, closer to absolute zero than any other element recorded, which means that it could be used to create the lowest temperature operating refrigerant in existence. In truth, however, using liquid helium for this purpose isn’t incredibly efficient, and scientists are having trouble containing helium in its liquid state due to its superfluid properties.

The Sun - Solar Flare. An illustration of the sun and sun flare with a planet to give scale to the size of the flare.

Back to top.


Helium in Medicine

Helium canisters are used within the medical industry for breathing observation. It is essential for treating ailments like asthma, emphysema, and other conditions that affect breathing. Liquified helium is used for MRI scans, when the element is set at -269 C, it becomes usable as a coolant for the MRI magnet. The gas is usually used to treat diseases that affect the lungs, partly because the gas helps patients to breathe easier.

When mixed with oxygen at a ratio of 40% helium, individuals suffering from conditions like emphysema and chronic bronchitis find breathing easier. This is important because those individuals suffering with respiratory problems often find exercise difficult, which can affect the individual’s overall well-being. Helium could be their solution.

Back to top.


Welding Helium Tanks and Other Uses

Many experienced welders will have experimented with helium solutions at one point in their working life. Whether they’re working with MIG welding gas or TIG welding gas, adding a little helium into the mix can have interesting effects on subsequent welds.

One of helium’s many industrial uses is to prevent chemicals from causing explosions, and this can be very helpful in welding. Helium does a similar job to argon in welding, in that it has a high heat transfer while its inert properties make for a great shielding gas. A high heat transfer usually correlates with faster welding with better beads. Helium is generally considered to achieve this better than argon, but since helium is far more expensive experienced and thrifty welders will usually blend a small percentage of helium into an argon mix to help keep their welds smooth without breaking the bank.

Since helium is such an important resource, you should use a high-quality shielding gas regulator during your welding to ensure that you make the most of your supply.


Back to top.


Where Can You Find Helium?

Helium has thousands of applications and if you look around, you are sure to be able to find some helium near you:

Balloons – Helium is lighter than air, which is why it causes balloons to float.

The Sun – As stated earlier, the sun is 45% helium.

Lasers – Helium is also used in CO2 laser welding as a shielding gas because it protects against combustion where other elements might cause an explosion at such high temperatures.

Compressed Air Tanks – It’s unlikely that you can currently see a group of scuba divers, but next time you do you’ll be able to identify that they are also using helium. The helium in their tanks makes it easier to breath the air that it is mixed with – much like the medical patients currently testing for lung disease relief services with helium.

Back to top.

colorful balloons on a blue sky background

We understand the importance of helium gas for the future of our world and we can supply you with the helium products you need to excel, whether that’s disposable helium cylinders for your business or helium canisters to cater any event with balloons.