BOC is strengthening its US helium supply capability with a new distribution centre opening in Montgomery, Illinois.

From this location, BOC will ship gaseous and liquid helium to customers throughout the central Midwest.

BOC is moving to Montgomery from an older, multi-product facility in Carol Stream, Illinois. The new, larger plant, located in a western suburb of Chicago, will be totally focused on helium and will give BOC better access to major highways in the Chicago area.

'Because the Montgomery plant will be totally dedicated to helium production and distribution, we expect to provide our customers with an even better level of service than they had been accustomed to from the Carol Stream facility,' said Phil Kornbluth, vice president, global helium, BOC.

Those customers, located throughout Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, use the helium in applications ranging from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to welding, leak detection and basic research.

BOC employs 13 people at the facility, including drivers, plant workers and managers.

The helium is shipped to Montgomery from BOC's helium plant in Otis, Kansas, or one of BOC's third-party sources of liquid helium. The Otis plant provides over 50 per cent of BOC helium supply and is one of only 13 sources of refined liquid helium in the world. In addition to Otis, BOC also has access to helium produced from other US sources in Wyoming and Utah and from sources in Algeria, Poland, Qatar and Russia. From these sources, BOC ships bulk liquid helium around the world to 48 distribution centres similar to the Montgomery facility.