First discovered in the corona around the sun and later found in gases leaking from Mount Vesuvius, helium ranks as the second-most abundant element in the universe. It is the second element in the Periodic Table of Elements and an inert, colorless, odorless and non-flammable gas. Due to its very low density, helium floats in the air. This is why your balloons fly and your voice rises several octaves when you inhale helium. (Don't do this. Helium replaces oxygen in the lungs and can be lethal in large amounts.) It also powers rockets and so much more.
- Balloons. Probably the most well-known of all helium uses is inflating airborne balloons. Helium tank rental is popular for use at birthday parties and other special events. Tulsa Gas and Gear offers helium tanks able to handle most demands, from tanks that are ideal for small events to large industrial cylinders. Helium is also used to inflate airplane tires, advertising blimps, and geostationary balloons.
- Rocketry. Helium is used as a pressurization gas for cryogenic rocket propellants used in space and missile missions.
- Welding gear. Over 50% of products made in the U.S. require welding. Owing to its inert properties, helium is used widely as a shielding gas for arc welding, a technique in which metals are welded using the heat generated by an electric arc. With its high heat conductivity, it is an excellent gas for use with aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and magnesium alloys.
- Diving. Deep sea divers, like those involved in the Thailand cave rescue, use mixtures of helium and oxygen for breathing at great depths and high pressures.
- Calibration. Helium is used as a calibration and balance gas in calibration mixtures, a carrier gas in gas chromatography, and a purge and zero span gas for analytical instruments.
Helium uses abound. It serves as a combined cooling and shielding medium for pulling optical fibers, cooling uranium rods in nuclear reactors, as a buffer or carrier gas in various types of lasers, and to inflate airbags in high-pressure capsules.
And also, balloons.