It is usually used in conjunction with a flow of an inert gas like helium or nitrogen, which prevents the panic, sense of suffocation and struggling before unconsciousness, known as the hypercapnic alarm response caused by the presence of high carbon dioxide concentrations in the blood.
The President’s Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce, and those interacting with us, requires all Federal employees, contractors, and others in Federal buildings and on Federal lands to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures identified in the CDC guidelines. Mask up and help BLM continue to ensure continuity of service, meet the mission and serve our communities. Do your part to ensure continuity of government services and put COVID-19 behind us.
- Valves with Flowmeter for Inert Gas. In research sample systems, emission monitoring systems, chromatography, and other high-purity applications that use argon, helium, nitrogen, or carbon dioxide.
- New 80 cu ft Steel Inert Gas Cylinder with CGA580 Valve - Helium, Nitrogen, Argon, CO2/Nitrogen Mix. 4.9 out of 5 stars.
The latest information on changes to facilities and services in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) is available here.View the alert: BLM New Mexico COVID-19 Information Update March 19, 2021
What is helium?
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen. It is a colorless and odorless inert gas that has unique properties.
What makes helium so unique?
Of all the elements, helium is the most stable; it will not burn or react with other elements. Helium has the lowest melting and boiling points. It exists as a gas, except under extreme conditions. At temperatures near absolute zero, helium is a fluid; most materials are solid when cooled to such low temperatures.
Where does helium come from?
Helium is a non-renewable natural resource that is most commonly recovered from natural gas deposits. Geologic conditions in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas make the natural gas in these areas some of the most helium-rich in the world (with concentrations between 0.3 percent and 2.7 percent).
What is helium used for, and why is it a strategic natural resource?
Perhaps the most familiar use of helium is as a safe, non-flammable gas to fill party and parade balloons. However, helium is a critical component in many fields, including scientific research, medical technology, high-tech manufacturing, space exploration, and national defense. Here are a few examples:
- The medical field uses helium in essential diagnostic equipment such as MRI’s. Helium-neon lasers are used in eye surgery.
- National defense applications include rocket engine testing, scientific balloons, surveillance craft, air-to-air missile guidance systems, and more.
- Helium is used to cool thermographic cameras and equipment used by search and rescue teams and medical personnel to detect and monitor certain physiological processes.
- Various industries use helium to detect gas leaks in their products. Helium is a safe tracer gas because it is inert. Manufacturers of aerosol products, tires, refrigerators, fire extinguishers, air conditioners and other devices use helium to test seals before their products come to market.
- Cutting edge space science and research requires helium. NASA uses helium to keep hot gases and ultra-cold liquid fuel separated during lift-off of rockets.
- Arc welding uses helium to create an inert gas shield. Similarly, divers and others working under pressure can use a mix of helium and oxygen to create a safe artificial breathing atmosphere.
- Helium is a protective gas in titanium and zirconium production and in growing silicon and germanium crystals.
- Since helium doesn’t become radioactive, it is used as a cooling medium for nuclear reactors.
- Cryogenics, superconductivity, laser pointers, supersonic wind tunnels, cardiopulmonary resuscitation pumps, monitoring blimps used by the Border Patrol, and liquid fuel rockets all require helium in either their manufacture or use.
For many of these applications, there is no substitute for helium. Helium is a non-renewable resource found in recoverable quantities in only a few locations around the world, many of which are being depleted. Accordingly, the U.S. has important economic and national security interests in ensuring a reliable supply of helium.
Helium Inert Gas
What is the Federal role in managing this strategic resource?
The BLM operates and maintains a helium storage reservoir, enrichment plant, and pipeline system near Amarillo, Texas, that supplies over 40 percent of domestic demand for helium. The BLM supplies crude helium to private helium refining companies which in turn refine the helium and market it to consumers.
The BLM is also responsible for evaluating the Nation’s helium-bearing gas fields and providing responsible access to Federal land for managed recovery and disposal of helium. The Federal Helium Program is administered by the BLM’s Amarillo Field Office under the authority of the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013.
Helium Inert Gas
How is the Federal Helium Program Funded?
The Federal Helium Program operates using non-appropriated funds (i.e. money generated from the sale and storage of helium and other related non-tax revenues). With crude helium auctions and sales stopping October 1, 2018, program revenues for FY 2019 declined to $63 million dollars. After funding operations, the program continues to return about $30 million dollars to the U.S. Treasury.