Industrial gas company Air Liquide has announced a partnership with clean energy expert Laurentis Energy Partners that will see the two agreeing to produce and distribute helium-3 (3He).

Utilised in industries as specialised as quantum computing, astrophysics, neutron detection and medical imaging, the rare 3He isotope will be extracted as a by-product of Darlington power generating station’s process in Canada. 

What makes 3He different to the more common helium-4 is its unique properties such as a lower liquefaction temperature, allowing it so reach temperatures close to absolute zero which could see the molecule becoming an essential component in achieving fusion. 

Commenting on the partnership, Emilie Mouren-Renouard, Executive Committee Member, Air Liquide, said, “This major agreement reinforces our core competencies when it comes to extreme cryogenics and deep tech, and illustrates our ambition to push back the frontiers of science.” 

“In particular, it enables us to offer our customers an ever more comprehensive range of products and services including helium-3 rare gas.” 

Following extraction at the plant Air Liquide will use its gas management and cryogenics expertise to purify the 3He before packaging and distributing it to clients across the world, with production beginning at the end of 2021.

The announcement comes as gasworld launches its Helium Super Summit in Houston, Texas, which will feature prominent speakers from the industrial gas industry commenting on all things helium. The event is taking place from Dec 7th - 9th.