The development of green helium – produced from gas that contains little or no hydrocarbons and doesn’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions – was a key topic at the Abu Dhabi MENA Industrial Gases Conference 2022.
Currently nearly all the world’s helium is produced as a by-product of the processing of hydrocarbon-bearing gas at either natural gas processing facilities or liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants. At these plants, helium, which is inert, is part of the waste stream that consists mostly of nitrogen and helium.
Traditionally supply has been limited to natural gas fields where a very limited number of those (LNG) fields have contained small volumes of helium (0.3 to 0.5%), which is then separated as a profitable by-product.
But in new helium exploration, volumes are being found in non-hydrocarbon environments, where nitrogen (not a greenhouse gas) is the dominant carrier gas – which can be vented with zero carbon emissions.
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