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Helium extraction and liquefaction

Helium Recovery and Liquefaction

Recovering liquid helium

Helium is a scarce resource used across a broad range of applications including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) scanners, optical fibers and semiconductors manufacturing, space industry and deep diving. It is a highly valuable product. By using proven technology and time-tested processes, Air Liquide Engineering & Construction offers solutions to recover and liquefy helium from natural gas.

Liquid helium delivered into ISO containers

The feedstock for this technology is natural gas or raw helium gas from Liquefied Natural Gas units or nitrogen rejection units. The initial three-step procedure involves purification using a cryogenic partial condensation unit, a hydrogen removal system and a Pressure Swing Adsorber unit. During this process, pure gaseous helium is separated from other components, including nitrogen, methane, hydrogen, argon, oxygen, water and CO2.

Pure helium 99.995+% purity is then liquefied for storage at temperatures in the range of -270°C. In order to cool and liquefy the helium, a helium cycle is used alongside cryogenic expanders with an optimized cryogenic exchanger arrangement. Air Liquide Engineering & Construction has developed proprietary technology for the expanders based on static gas bearing, delivering improved reliability and efficiency.

The unit has been designed with loading bays so the liquid helium can be fed directly into ISO containers for easy transportation.

Advantages

  • Tailor-made solutions specifically designed to the helium concentration in the raw gas and the type of impurities
  • More than 99% helium recovery rate
  • Proprietary technology improves reliability and efficiency
  • Unit equipped with loading bays to directly fill ISO containers

Key figures

  • Capacity: up to 20 tons per day (one train)

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