BOC responds to helium issues

Balloon gas supplier BOC has issued a statement to the balloon industry, reassuring retailers and balloon artists in light of the recent price rises in helium as well as consumer concerns about impending helium shortages.

The statement, which was shared by BAPIA’s Sue Bowler, should help both those in the industry  understand the situation a little better while also providing information that will help reassure consumers who have concerns regarding what they believe is pure helium being used for balloons.

The statement read:

“It’s important to be aware that there is a distinction between pure, liquid helium and impure, gaseous helium. Gas companies prioritise supplies of pure, liquid helium for critical medical uses e.g MRI scanners in hospitals, ensuring that they can remain fully operational.

Helium for balloons is a different product – it is impure and gaseous and produced as a by-product of supplying liquid helium for the MRI market – a market which makes up about 40% of the helium business in the UK. Impure, gaseous helium cannot be used directly in medical MRI scanners or in other appliactions that use super-conducting magnets. Impure helium can be recovered by the customer and reliquified if the customer has the necessary plant on site, and if not, it can still be receoverd and repurposed for use in the balloon market.

Industrial gas companies do support the recovery and reprocessing of helium to ensure that every opportunity is taken to recycle and reuse this important resource. Historically, recovery has only been viable for larger users of helium, but new opportunities are constantly being reviewed and implemented with customers to help them conserve and reuse their helium.

For the future, there is still plenty of helium on our planet, with investments being made to bring various new sources on-stream in the coming years. The locations and environments of these new sources will mean the market price for helium is expected to continue to rise, but making these investments will mean that helium will continue to be available for many years to come. Rising prices in the market will also drive an increase in investment in the means by which customers can recover more of their own helium.”

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