Recovering Xenon — and Costs


A range of new uses for the noble gas xenon has boosted its profile along with its demand at a time when supplies have been crimped thanks to the ongoing economic recession. With that in mind, users are paying more attention to how they use xenon.

Xenon is a heavy, colorless, odorless rare gas that is present within the atmosphere at 87 parts-per-billion.

It is collected as a byproduct from very large air separation plants. Current world-wide production capacity is estimated to be 14 million liters per year. However, because of the global economic recession and curtailment in demand for oxygen and nitrogen, the available volume of xenon is now estimated to be less than 10 million liters per year.

Because of its place within the periodic table, xenon possesses a number of physical and chemical properties that make it useful within a wide variety of applications such as integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing, plasma displays, excimer lasers, lighting, and aerospace. In the future, there are expectations that xenon will also be employed as an anesthetic and blanketing gas to reduce brain trauma.

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