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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    They could fill the balloons with hydrogen instead ....


    Yabutt, with Bloomburges "no large soda" laws....you couldn't put enough handlers around the balloons to hold them down....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big B View Post
    What an explosive idea. Maybe there is a reason they don't already do that.
    It's flammable, not explosive.

    it don't carry it's own oxygen with it.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgfoster View Post
    Huh! I did not know that. But there is an interesting discussion of that fact here:
    Atmospheric escape - Wikipedia

    Evidently we are losing about 50 grams per second of Helium due to atmospheric escape.

    Denis
    weeeead chit ya learn here

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    Helium is a byproduct of natural gas mining. And we aren't fractionally distilling ALL of the helium in the consumed natural gas. Helium as collected from atmospheric air is so rare that it is not at all cost effective to collect.

    There was an overage that was stored by the federal government as a strategic stockpile, back when the government was invested in growing infrastructure (largely during the cold war). Then free market was given reign over it and we've slowly been "running out" since. Expected to be out of the stockpile in 2021. Which then means that they'll charge 5x as much for the same helium once the stockpile is used up and they have to go back to only selling what they produce.
    The underlying issue is economics. Much more more Helium could be captured if the economics supported it. The current shortage is a combination of reduced distilling capacity, some which has been caused by politics, and exponentially increasing demand. Major current consumer of He is MRIs.

    He is expensive to distill and a real pain to store. You either have to keep it cool to store as a liquid or else store underground.

    The unfortunate thing is that it is grossly undervalued at current prices in relation to its technological value. It could easily be 1000X current prices and still be economically usable for many of the technology based applications, not so much for balloons though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big B View Post
    What an explosive idea. Maybe there is a reason they don't already do that.
    I remember in science lab in high school we did an experiment where we dropped a few shavings of magnesium into a small test tube of hydrochloric acid and then put a lit match above the test tube and “pop” went the hydrogen gas liberated as we created magnesium chloride.

    I had brought a balloon to class with the idea that I was going to try to fill it with hydrogen. I filled an Erlenmeyer flask a third full of acid, then filled the balloon with magnesium filings and stretched the balloon over the mouth of the flask and let the filings drop into the acid. The balloon inflated with hydrogen and I was able to get it tied off and immediately it started getting batted around the room by my classmates.

    The fun ended when it migrated to the other end of the lab where another class was doing experiments with Bunsen burners . . . and I spent the rest of the week in detention for not observing safety rules. My science teachers were often frustrated with me, but I still managed to get straight A’s in science despite whatever modifications I attempted with the labs. And I have to say, I remember way more chemistry from introducing a little creativity into the labs than I did other classes where their was little in the way of opportunity for application.

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    Our radioactive Earth is making some new He all the time, est. 3000 tons per year. Unfortunately, current usage is an order of magnitude greater than that.

    It collects in the same places and by the same processes as natural gas, hence the current method of production. Qatar apparently is standing up a new large-scale He facility, since they have vast natural gas reserves.

    Regards.

    Mike

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    Make balloons with valves at their tops and a lighter, with a refractory material surrounding it and route the parade into an open space, then light it. Hydrogen burns with an almost colorless blue flame so it would be necessary to add something to produce color. That could be an advantage. Have rock groups playing at the grand finale, a different one for each colored flame. Look what it did for the Burning Man. You could also arrange different nozzle patterns, not just have a straight flame.

    Helium is produced by radioactive decay that generates alpha particles, which consist of two protons and two neutrons. It doesn't take long for them to find loose electrons and become helium. The problem is like petroleum, it is generated over billions of years and used up in decades.

    I have some involvement with liquid helium and nitrogen transfer lines used in medical research to freeze specimens so rapidly that it skips the crystalline phase. Liquid nitrogen works almost as well and people are replacing helium with it.

    Bill

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    When I was a rocket engine mechanic at Rocketdyne those many years ago, Helium was used in the engines. The engine operation in those days for things such as valve openings and closings, was timed electro-mechanically with pneumatic solenoid valves. Initially Nitrogen gas was used ,(GN2) but later on, the change was made to Helium due to its smaller molecule, which gave faster valve operation.

    It was also used in that era ('50's and '60's) for what was then called "heliarc welding". I worked in the manufacturing area for a while and the welders were using helium as shielding gas with straight DC for welding aluminum and stainless steel castings and flanges. They did some beautiful work.

    The problem with Helium was containing it. Many of the tube flares and joints on the test stand had to be made by hand using tubing cutters and hand-flaring units. They were very tough to use in the field and the ensuing joint would often leak. Tests were done with brushes and bottles of tincture of green soap. If you could make a joint that wouldn't leak, you were "the man".

    I recall traveling to California the very first time years back. I was going through Texas and saw a sign announcing a Helium mine. I guess the stuff has to be pried out of the ground. In any case, it's scarce. Ask anyone using it for mixed gases in welding. It's not cheap anymore.

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    Motion, is there anyone with an active mind who does not have a chemistry explosion story? It's a rite of passage. One of mine is about the nitrogen tri-iodide I mixed up in my room at home. My sister in the next room threw a tantrum when it exploded. The irony of the story is that later in high school chemistry she made some and it blew when a boy picked it up to look at it. Fortunately no one was injured.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big B View Post
    Are you volunteering to go get it? LOL
    just need to go at night

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    Quote Originally Posted by 9100 View Post
    Motion, is there anyone with an active mind who does not have a chemistry explosion story? It's a rite of passage. One of mine is about the nitrogen tri-iodide I mixed up in my room at home. My sister in the next room threw a tantrum when it exploded. The irony of the story is that later in high school chemistry she made some and it blew when a boy picked it up to look at it. Fortunately no one was injured.

    Bill
    Ha. When I was in high school, I had a chemistry class. Apparently, some genius had stored a large glass container on a shelf above a sink that was partially filled with water. In the container were stored several pounds of metallic sodium balls packed in alcohol.

    At some point, the shelf gave way and the container fell into the water, causing the sodium to catch fire. I didn't see it happen but I did see the aftermath. The walls of the small storage room were totally black from the smoke. Fortunately, the sink contained most of the fire and the school didn't' burn down. It was an object lesson regarding sodium's affinity for H2O.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    It's flammable, not explosive.

    it don't carry it's own oxygen with it.....
    Same thing for things like gasoline and we all know how safe that is. Ever heard of a problem with gasoline causing an explosion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    Helium is a byproduct of natural gas mining. And we aren't fractionally distilling ALL of the helium in the consumed natural gas. Helium as collected from atmospheric air is so rare that it is not at all cost effective to collect.
    I've never seen He show up on a gas sample as more than a trace element, at least in the Anadarko or Arkoma basins, and we sure as hell don't separate it out of the 2bcf/d we process.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big B View Post
    Same thing for things like gasoline and we all know how safe that is. Ever heard of a problem with gasoline causing an explosion?

    Yes, as a matter of fact, I have. One night I watched the Standard Oil refinery burn to the ground in Whiting, Indiana. There were a number of explosions when the storage tanks went up. The next day there were pictures of melted railroad tracks on the newspaper.

    But of course, this may on;y be an isolated incident.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    I've never seen He show up on a gas sample as more than a trace element, at least in the Anadarko or Arkoma basins, and we sure as hell don't separate it out of the 2bcf/d we process.
    According to Wikipedia ...

    "In the United States, most helium is extracted from natural gas of the Hugoton and nearby gas fields in Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Panhandle Field in Texas."

    Regards.

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    Yes, as a matter of fact, I have. One night I watched the Standard Oil refinery burn to the ground in Whiting, Indiana. There were a number of explosions when the storage tanks went up. The next day there were pictures of melted railroad tracks on the newspaper.

    But of course, this may on;y be an isolated incident.
    I saw something similar but with natural gas. My wife and I and another couple were on our way home from a trip to Chicago when all of the sudden the sky lit up with a giant mushroom like cloud of fire. That was followed by many other smaller balls of fire. We were about 10 miles away from the explosion but it still lit it up pretty good for a dark night. When we stopped in Plainwell, Michigan near where the explosion took place it was around 10pm on a Sunday night but most residents were outside trying to figure out what happened.

    Next day I saw on the news that a four foot diameter natural gas pipe that was under 720 psi of pressure had ruptured and exploded. Once in a lifetime sight.
    Last edited by Big B; 11-29-2019 at 01:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Finegrain View Post
    According to Wikipedia ...

    "In the United States, most helium is extracted from natural gas of the Hugoton and nearby gas fields in Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Panhandle Field in Texas."

    Regards.

    Mike
    I'm aware of dedicated wells for such production, particularly in KS, but by and large I've never seen it as a by-product of the gas streams we handle.

    But now that we're discussing it, if I get some free time in the office next week maybe I can find some well data on He production. If I do, I'll post it.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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  24. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big B View Post
    I saw something similar but with natural gas. My wife and I and another couple were on our way home from a trip to Chicago when all of the sudden the sky lit up with a giant mushroom like cloud of fire. That was followed by many other smaller balls of fire. We were about 10 miles away from the explosion but it still lit it up pretty good for a dark night. When we stopped in Plainwell, Michigan near where the explosion took place it was around 10pm on a Sunday night but most residents were outside trying to figure out what happened.

    Next day I saw on the news that a four food diameter natural gas pipe that was under 720 psi of pressure had ruptured and exploded. Once in a lifetime sight.
    I was the engineer/proj mgr for the repair of a 12" that ruptured (at 1121psi) and was a hell of mess in an otherwise bleak terrain. I can't even imagine a 48.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Finegrain View Post
    According to Wikipedia ...

    "In the United States, most helium is extracted from natural gas of the Hugoton and nearby gas fields in Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Panhandle Field in Texas."

    Regards.

    Mike
    We used to visit a He recovery operation near Liberal Kansas. The He was stripped from the natural gas and the gas would be injected back into the ground. Fairly good sized operation..............Bob

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    I beleive the way He is extracted from natural gas is very simple. I understood the gas is allowed to flow through a plexiglas pipe. The He molecules leak through the plastic and are collected while the NG goes on it's way out to metal pipes.
    I believe the USA Helium reserve was set up in the 1930's by the US Navy so they would have enough Helium for their airships. They bought the gas on the open market and pumped it into abandoned gas wells in Texas. It was considered a a strategic resource and none was sold to Germany so they had to use Hydrogen instead. This reserve is now being sold off at cut rate prices to fill balloons etc. Once the storage is empty the price will rise to reflect the true cost. That will probably take 5-10 years or less.
    Bill D.

    National Helium Reserve - Wikipedia


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