Helium
He
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General Characteristics Health Hazards Material Recommendations

A colorless, nonflammable and odorless gas.

A simple asphyxiant

Normal Materials can be used.
TLV-TWA Flammable Limits DOT Class / Label
None Established Nonflammable 2.2 / Nonflammable
Molecular Weight Specific Gravity Specific Volume
4.0 0.138 @ 77° F 96.7 cu.ft./lb @ 70° F
CGA Valve Outlet CAS Registry No. UN Number
580 7440-59-7 1046
National Stock Number (NSN) Applicable to Helium
CFC Specifications Chart
MIL Spec / Fed Specs
MSDS for Helium


Grade
Part #
Purity Minimum Cylinder
Size
Volume
SCF
Pressure
@ 70 F
Comments
Electronic
454400
99.9999% Min. 049
044
016
291
200
67
2640
2000
2000
Research
402200
99.9995% Min. 049
044
016
291
200
67
2640
2000
2000

None

Ultra High
402300
99.999% Min. 049
044
016
291
200
67
2640
2000
2000

None

Zero
402500
99.995%
<0.5 ppm THC
049
044
016
291
200
67
2640
2000
2000

None

High Purity
402400
99.995% 049
044
016
291
200
67
2640
2000
2000

None

Industrial / Technical 99.9% 049
044
016
291
200
67
2640
2000
2000

None


Uses: Helium - He - Helium is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It is present in dry air in a concentration of 5.24 ppm by volume. Used extensively in the welding industry as an inert shielding gas in arc welding. Used as a leak detector and as a carrier in gas chromatography.

(He), chemical element, inert gas of Group 0 (noble gases) of the periodic table. The second lightest element (only hydrogen being lighter), helium is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas that becomes liquid at -268.9° C (-452° F). Only under increased pressure (approximately 25 atmospheres) does helium solidify. Below 2.17 kelvins, the isotope helium-4 has unique properties: it becomes a superfluid (its viscosity nearly vanishes) and its thermal conductivity becomes more than 1,000 times greater than that of copper. In this state it is called helium II to distinguish it from normal liquid helium I. Chemically inert, helium does not form compounds, and its molecules consist of single atoms.

Helium was discovered in the gaseous atmosphere surrounding the Sun by the French astronomer Pierre Janssen, who detected a bright yellow line in the spectrum of the solar chromosphere during an eclipse in 1868; this line was initially assumed to represent the element sodium. That same year, the English astronomer Joseph Norman Lockyer observed a yellow line in the solar spectrum that did not correspond to the known D1 and D2 lines of sodium, and so he named it the D3 line. Lockyer concluded that the D3 line was caused by an element in the Sun that was unknown on Earth; he and the chemist Edward Frankland used the Greek word for sun, helios, in naming the element. The British chemist Sir William Ramsay discovered the existence of helium on Earth in 1895. Ramsay obtained a sample of the uranium-bearing mineral cleveite, and upon investigating the gas produced by heating the sample, he found that a unique bright-yellow line in its spectrum matched that of the D3 line observed in the spectrum of the Sun; the new element of helium was thus conclusively identified. In 1903 Ramsay and Frederick Soddy further determined that helium is a product of the spontaneous disintegration of radioactive substances.

Helium constitutes about 23 percent of the mass of the universe and is thus second in abundance to hydrogen in the cosmos. Helium is concentrated in stars, where it is synthesized from hydrogen by nuclear fusion. Although helium occurs in the Earth's atmosphere only to the extent of 1 part in 200,000 (0.0005 percent), and small amounts occur in radioactive minerals, meteoric iron, and mineral springs, great volumes of helium are found as a component (up to 7.6 percent) in natural
gases in the United States (especially in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Utah). Smaller supplies have been discovered in Canada and South Africa and in the Sahara
Desert.

The helium that is present on Earth is not a primordial component of the Earth but has been generated by radioactive decay. Alpha particles, ejected from the nuclei of heavier radioactive substances, are nuclei of the isotope helium-4. Unlike argon gas, helium does not accumulate in large quantities in the atmosphere because Earth's gravity is not sufficient to prevent its gradual escape into space. The trace of the isotope helium-3 on Earth is attributable to the negative beta decay of the rare hydrogen-3 isotope (tritium). Thus, the helium that is found in large quantities on Earth consists of a mixture of two stable isotopes: helium-4 (99.99987 percent) and helium-3 (0.00013 percent).


Helium gas (98.2 percent pure) is isolated from natural gas by liquefying the other components at low temperatures and under high pressures. Adsorption of other gases on cooled, activated
charcoal yields 99.995 percent pure helium. Helium is used as an inert-gas atmosphere for welding metals such as aluminum; in rocket propulsion (to pressurize fuel tanks, especially those
for liquid hydrogen, because only helium is still a gas at liquid-hydrogen temperature); in meteorology (as a lifting gas for instrument-carrying balloons); in cryogenics (as a coolant because liquid helium is the coldest substance); and in high-pressure breathing operations (mixed with oxygen, as in scuba diving and caisson work, especially because of its low solubility in the blood-stream). Meteorites and rocks have been analyzed for helium content as a means of dating.

Atomic number 2

Atomic weight 4.0026

Melting point - none

Boiling point -268.9° C (-452° F)

Density (1 atm, 0 C) 0.1785 g/litre

Valence 0

Electronic configuration 2 or 1s2