An advantageous new technology derived to recover helium and unreacted chlorine from the optical fibre perform drying and consolidation processes has been successfully patented by the Gases Division of The Linde Group and could lead to significant cost reduction.

The new technology, developed in the Linde Gases R&D labs in New Jersey, the US, collects off-gas and removes the hydrogen chloride (HCI). The by-product is then separated into chlorine and helium rich streams that are brought back to the required purity levels and recycled back through the consolidation furnace.

Art Shirley, head of chemistry and energy applications development of The Linde Group, commented, “With helium in short supply and the cost of helium increasing, conservation through recycling is the only way to lower costs and to ensure that there is an adequate supply of helium to meet increasing demands for more fibre.”

Glenn Rush, head of metals & glass strategic marketing of The Linde Group, explained the merits and benefits of the newly patented technology, “The patent not only helps customers to reduce helium consumption, but they can recover the helium, recycle it back to the perform process or use it in the fibre drawing towers to cool the fibre when drawing at high speeds.”

Helium usage in fibre perform manufacture is thought to be 2-3 times higher than helium usage in fibre draw manufacture, with the new capability now enabling significant reduction in the volume of helium required for the production of performs by as much as 80%.

Another advantage of the recent patent is the faster consolidation of the performs and a more consistent product perform to perform.