Peak Scientific has advised GC operators to switch to hydrogen in the face of dwindling helium supplies.
Peak Scientific has warned laboratories to cut wasteful use of helium to protect against a shortage in supplies.
Laboratories today use helium in applications such as the cooling of magnets inside MRI machines or within gas chromatography (GC).
In cryogenic applications, there is no substitute for helium. In GC, however, hydrogen is a readily available alternative.
“As many large users across other industries see growth in the use of helium, with further growth expected, GC chromatographers will be forced to seek alternative methods and fortunately there are substitutes available for this,” said Peak Scientific.
As hydrogen can be generated on demand through the electrolysis of water, GC operators will be protected from supply issues of carrier gas or an increase in cost.
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen, but on earth it’s relatively rare, found in deposits underground with natural gas and in the atmosphere, where it escapes into space.
The US National Helium Reserve, which extracts gas from under the American Great Plains, is currently responsible for around 30% of the world’s helium supply.
Helium is used in a wide variety of applications including, cryogenics, purging/pressurising, welding cover gas, controlled atmospheres, amongst others.
The largest laboratory use for helium is in the cooling of magnets inside MRI machines. For this application helium is essential and cannot be substituted.
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