The Rare Gases Roller-Coaster Fueled by Volatile Markets


It has been a year and a half since I wrote the last article on rare gases for CryoGas International. As I stated then, I am amazed at how volatile this market can be. 

After almost 40 years of following it, I should not be surprised. Of special interest this year is that the volatility is now focused on neon (Ne). This is the first time I have seen this gas in a shortage. During my career in gases, I have seen xenon (Xe) shortages and related price spikes four times, krypton (Kr) shortages twice, but neon — never. Since July of 2014 we experienced a severe curtailment in the supply of neon, which thankfully, was short-lived.

Shortages of rare gases tend to dissipate due to the overpricing forced by lack of supply. High prices push the development of new sources and/or create weakened demand as applications move to other non-rare gas solutions. History has shown us that shortages of rare gases rarely last for more than a year or two.

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