Helium — Selective sieving membrane


A membrane technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could help secure the nation’s helium supply by enabling the extraction of helium from new, low-grade sources. A steady supply of helium is critical for high-tech applications in MRI machines, fiber optic manufacturing, semiconductor fabrication and more. The sieving membrane technology can efficiently separate helium from nitrogen-rich hydrocarbon streams that are currently untapped by natural gas producers. The increased selectivity and robust nature of the ORNL membrane allow for the cost-effective recovery of helium even where gas concentrations are very low. ORNL and Helios-NRG, a small business in New York, are collaborating to field-test the membrane technology as part of a hybrid system. [Written by Morgan McCorkle]

 -  Morgan McCorkle,  September 03, 2013

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