Back to Blog List

Helium Shortage Means for Leak Testing

Helium shortage may be the second most abundant element in the known universe, but that doesn’t mean it’s in infinite supply. In fact, most of the helium in the universe is unattainable and unusable, as it is located within the burning hearts of stars. Here on Earth, helium is in increasingly short supply, even in America, the world’s number one helium producing country. The Federal Helium Reserve near Amarillo, Texas, overseen by the US Bureau of Land Management, once stored nearly a billion cubic meters of helium. A Congressional bill passed in 1996 was aimed at gradually selling off these reserves to privately-operated suppliers, with the eventual goal of shuttering the facility. When the negative consequences of such action became more apparent, a second bill was passed in 2013 to essentially reverse the original move. But it may have been too little, too late.

How bad is the helium shortage? On one end of the spectrum, many party supply stores have stopped offering helium balloons; on the other, numerous scientific and research organizations have been forced to cease experiments that require helium, and to shut down equipment that uses the element in its liquid form as coolant. In some places, helium prices as high as $35 per liter have been reported.

Helium as Tracer Gas for Helium Shortage

Because helium diffuses through solids at thrice as quickly as air does, it is the primary tracer gas used with leak detection equipment. To make the most of a limited supply of increasingly-costly helium, it is important that your leak detection processes utilize the fastest and most accurate technology available.

Cincinnati Test Systems’ TracerMate CS is one of the most effective leak test instruments on the market. It provides numerous standard and advanced testing programs and variable tracer gas mixing options for fine-tuned performance. With the TracerMate CS, users can minimize helium use while still achieving highly accurate results.

To further improve your ROI on helium, Cincinnati Test Systems offers innovative, high performance helium recovery and reclamation systems. In many leak test processes, the tracer gas is simply expelled and lost; being lighter than air, helium quickly dissipates into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The TMRC line of helium reclaim equipment provides up to 98 percent recovery efficiency and fully automated operation for reliable tracer gas recycling in any leak test application.

Cincinnati Test Systems has been a leader in helium leak testing and tracer gas recovery technology for over three decades. We have the solutions you need to continue “business as usual” in the face of the helium shortage. Contact us today to learn more!
Share this on: