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Helium extraction from natural gas
EuroNorm GmbH, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
11/2014 - 04/2017
Dr. Petar Dalakov
Innovative solutions for helium extraction
Separation of high purity helium from natural gas with very low helium concentrations
Helium is a very valuable noble gas with numerous applications in different fields of industry and research. Liquid helium is for example indispensable as a refrigerant in cryogenic systems such as magnetic resonance imaging. On Earth, the most important natural helium occurrences are found in the atmosphere and in natural gas. Because of its low concentration in air – only approx. 0.0005% – helium is recovered primarily from natural gas. However, in recent years an extreme worldwide helium shortage emerged, which has manifested itself in acute supply shortages and in large price increases. Therefore, new approaches and innovative processes for helium recovery from natural gas are examined within this research project at the ILK Dresden. In particular, these methods will be applicable to extract efficiently high purity helium from natural gas sources even with very low helium concentrations. The research project focuses on one hand on the investigation of novel low-temperature membranes and on the other hand on the optimization of condensation and adsorption processes by using vortex tubes. In both cases, main attention is on the development of energy efficient processes. This reserach work will provide the basis for future R&D-projects in which then a working model of a complete system for helium recovery is to be realized.