Making Helium Worth the Cost Of Recovery

As helium prices go through the roof, NIST embarks on an ambitious recycling technology. The recycling of helium could be the next big sustainability and cost efficiency trend. A high-profile consumer of liquid helium, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has determined that recovery and re-liquefaction of the gas promises significant long-term returns. Helium recovery reduces vulnerability to shortages and supply disruptions. Furthermore, recycle systems are easily installed, and when maintenance is performed on such a system, the ongoing supply of helium is maintained by providing bulk helium as a backup. The NIST story that unfolds in the following is insight into how a research institution has opted for adaptive change that not only improves its balance sheet but also sets an example for an entire industry. It is the kind of change that beckons to both public and private organizations. Whether it is an engineering or physics department at a university, a research institute or government institution, any organization that uses a significant quantity of liquid helium as a coolant can now consider recovery and re-liquefaction as a step toward a more secure future.

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