"How is helium produced"

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'How is Helium produced?'

Production: Although Helium is one of the most common elements in the

universe it is a rare gas on earth. It exists in the atmosphere in such

small quantities (less than five parts per million) that recovering it

from the air is uneconomical. Helium is produced as a by-product of the

refining of natural gas, which is carried out on a commercial scale in the

USA and Poland. In these areas natural gas contains a relatively high

concentration of Helium which has accumulated as a result of radioactive

decay of heavy elements within the earth's crust. Helium is supplied to

distribution centres throughout the world in liquid form in large cryogenic

containers. The Helium is filled into liquid containers, gas cylinders and

cylinder packs as necessary.

History of Helium Production: Government involvement in helium conservation

dates to the Helium Act of 1925 which authorized the Bureau of Mines to build

and operate a large-scale helium extraction and purification plant.

From 1929

until 1960 the federal government was the only domestic helium producer. In

1960, Congress amended the Helium Act to provide incentives to natural gas

producers for stripping natural gas of its helium, for purchase of the

separated helium by the government, and for its long-term storage. With

over 960 million cubic meters (34.6 billion cubic feet) of helium in

government storage and a large private helium recovery industry, questions

arise as to the need for either the federal helium extraction program or the

federally maintained helium stockpile.

In a move which would take the federal government out of the helium business,

Congress passed the Helium Privatization Act (H.R. 873) as part of the

Seven-Year Balanced Budget Reconciliation Act of 1995 (H.R. 2491). Although

the measure died when the President vetoed the Budget Act on December...