Global Helium Market: Snapshot
Helium is the second component on the periodic table. It is a dreary an unscented gas yet it has various utilizations, some of which may shock you! Helium gas is actually ‘lighter-than-air’ because of its amazingly low thickness, which clarifies its most notable use; enhancing inflatables. Helium’s quality on earth was affirmed in 1895, anyway it was first found in 1868 when French space expert, Pierre Janssen, saw an obscure gas during a sun based overshadowing. This is the place the name ‘Helium’ began, as it was named after the Greek God of the sun, Helios. Since the gas is used in variety of applications, its demand has skyrocketed in recent years. Owing to this growing demand, the global helium market is expected to grow exponentially in coming years.
- Helium is industrially recouped from flammable gas stores, for the most part from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. This allows, North America to dominate the regional front of global helium market. It is utilized as an idle shield for curve welding, to pressurize the fuel tanks of fluid energized rockets and in supersonic windtunnels. Helium is joined with oxygen to make a nitrogen free air for remote ocean jumpers so they won’t experience the ill effects of a condition known as nitrogen narcosis. Fluid helium is a significant cryogenic material and is utilized to examine superconductivity and to make superconductive magnets. This helps the global helium market to grow exponentially in coming years.
- The developing trend of helium application in areas such as nuclear power plants, metal works, and semiconductor production is turning into a top need for makers in the helium market. Although, fluid and oleous coolants fill in as an option in contrast to helium, because of the beginning of helium deficiency in the market. In that capacity, makers should concentrate on expanding helium holds with the assistance of extraction from petroleum gas and oil mining. This also helps the global helium market to grow substantially in coming years.
Sales of Cryogenic Devices Surge with Improvements in Manufacturing Processes
Helium is a synonymous term with most cryogenic applications. Its exceptional cooling abilities are proving to be useful for the development of various cryogenic devices. Cryogenics currently accounts for the second-highest production amongst all applications in the helium market, with a ballpark output of ~38 million cubic meters in the year 2018. Hence, companies in the helium market are innovating cryogenic turbines that provide the liquefaction of helium. As such, companies in the helium ecosystem are increasing their capabilities to enhance the quality of cryogenic devices to cater to the needs of stakeholders in the aerospace industry. This trend is also helping in magnetic resonance imaging for the purpose of scientific research.
Companies in the helium landscape are expanding their scope of application in tissue and organ preservation, superconductivity, and mechanical engineering. The sales of cryogenic turbines are estimated to surge during the forecast period. As such, companies in the helium market are simplifying complex manufacturing processes with improved and optimized titanium and stainless steel parts. These parts are processed with the help of vacuum brazing and chemical nickel coating. They are also expanding the use of electron beam welding in manufacturing processes that are validated through several samples. On the other hand, companies are developing cryogenic compressors and pumps. They are also increasing their focus on aerodynamic gas bearings.
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Paradigm Shifts in Aerospace Industry of Asia Pacific Create Opportunities in Healthcare
Helium-3 is gaining increased importance in aerospace and healthcare industries. Helium-3 helps doctors diagnose lung diseases, as this element offers real-time imaging of lungs.
The healthcare segment is estimated to reach a value of ~US$ 940 million by the end of 2027, which is the second-highest amongst all end users in the helium market. Hence, stakeholders in the aerospace industry are increasing efforts to discover deposits of helium-3 on the moon. This trend is gaining momentum in the aerospace industries of Asia Pacific. As such, Asia Pacific holds the largest market share in the helium market, and is projected to exponentially grow throughout the forecast period. Hence, stakeholders in the Indian aerospace industry are planning an upcoming space probe to locate deposits of helium-3 that are worth trillions of dollars.
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Stakeholders in the aerospace industry are successfully carrying out the development of lunar landing crafts. For instance, Lockheed Martin – an American aerospace and defence company, revealed the company’s crewed lunar lander concept that aligns with NASA’s flight-proven technologies and systems. Hence, stakeholders in the helium market are increasing focus on the aerospace industry, as the moon is a million times more abundant in helium-3 gas as compared to the Earth. Other countries in Asia Pacific, such as China, are also aiming to make history in achieving a first-of-its-kind soft landing on the far side of the moon with the help of their lunar landing craft.
Manufacturers Streamlining Production Methods to Avoid Shortage of Helium in End Markets
The helium market is predicted for high growth potential during the forecast period, with an estimated production output of ~173 million cubic meters by the end of 2027. However, the challenge of production shortage is likely to affect market growth.
Stakeholders in the helium landscape are constrained with the shortage of helium in the sector of technology and healthcare. Analysts of Transparency Market Research (TMR) anticipate that, helium reserves are going to deplete in the coming years. This trend is presumed to affect the steady supply of coolants for notable projects in the aerospace industry. Hence, manufacturers in the helium market are increasing their production capabilities to extract helium through the process of uranium and thorium decay, which is acquired from natural gas and oil drilling.
Another challenge that manufacturers in the helium market come across is poor industrial safety practices that have led to increased risks of explosions and fires in recent years. Hence, manufacturers in the helium landscape are increasing awareness about safety practices amongst stakeholders in the value and supply chain.
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Helium Market: Overview
- Helium is produced from natural gas through the treatment of vent gas in nitrogen rejection units or LNG plants. Helium is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-toxic. It constitutes around 23% of the mass of the universe; however, it is a rare gas on the Earth. Just 0.000524% of helium is available in the Earth’s atmosphere.
- The gas is widely used in several industries such as electronics & semiconductors, manufacturing, healthcare, aerospace, and defense.
- The global helium market is projected to expand at a CAGR of ~4%, increasing from a value of ~US$ 2.5 Bn in 2019 to ~US$ 3.5 Bn by the end of 2027.
Increase in Investments in Electronics Sector to Drive Helium Market
- The global electronics industry has been expanding significantly since the last decade, due to improvements in the standard of living and rapid urbanization. According to the Government of India, investments toward the manufacturing of electronics reached US$ 22.13 Bn in 2017, a rise of 27% as compared to US$ 20.15 Bn in 2016.
- Electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and PCs contain semiconductor chips that carry out computing, storage, and communication functions. A majority of these chips are made from silicon, a common semiconductor material.
- Helium is extensively utilized in the manufacture of semiconductors, owing to its ability to offer high thermal conductivity, which helps control the temperature of the silicon. Furthermore, helium offers low temperature and inert gas features. This is expected to boost its adoption in the electronics industry. Thus, increase in investments in the electronics industry is anticipated to propel the global helium market.
Increase in Prices of Helium to Hamper Global Helium Market
- The prices of helium have increased rapidly due to the mismatch between demand and supply. Currently, the world is experiencing its third major helium shortage in the last 14 years. According to leading publishers, the prices of helium gas surged 135% year-on-year at a U.S. government auction in 2018.
- The depletion of existing sources and delay in new helium extraction projects, refinery equipment failures, geopolitical issues, and maintenance requirement at production facilities are major factors hampering the supply of helium across the globe, thus hampering the growth of the global helium market.
- Decrease in the production of helium in the U.S. is further expected to create a shortage of supply of the gas, as the Bureau of Land Management has been rationing supply since February 2018, after a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia announced an economic embargo on Qatar.
- The shortage of helium has consistently increased its prices. This rise in prices of helium is estimated to adversely affect the growth of the overall helium market.
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Increase in Production of Natural Gas to Offer Opportunities
- The natural gas industry has been witnessing significant expansion since the last few years, as it limits environmental impact. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global demand for natural gas rose by 4.6% in 2018, the fastest since 2010.
- The demand for natural gas is also driven by strong economic growth and the transition from coal-fired electric power. According to IEA, gas accounted for nearly half of the increase in global demand for energy in 2018, with significantly high consumption attributed to China and the U.S.
- Significant rise in the consumption of natural gas has driven investments by gas operators toward the development of conventional and unconventional gas reserves. Helium is obtained as a by-product of natural gas. Therefore, increase in capital expenditure on the development of the field is anticipated to mitigate the inconsistency in supply, thereby enhancing helium recovery during the forecast period.
- Growth in investments toward the exploration & production of natural gas is expected to offer lucrative opportunities to players involved in the processing and extraction of helium gas, as uninterrupted supply of industrial gas makes its adoption lucrative among end users.
Global Helium Market: Recent Developments, Expansions, Acquisitions, and New Contracts
- On August 30, 2018, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (‘TNSC’) acquired all the shares of IMI Co., Ltd., a company handling medical devices, primarily respiratory and emergency/intensive care equipment, including ventilators and temperature management devices and monitoring equipment. The acquisition is expected to help TNSC expand its respiratory business by leveraging synergies in IMI’s product development capabilities.
- On September 04, 2019, Messer Group invested US$ 38 Mn in the construction of a new air separation plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, the U.S. The plant is likely to produce air gases (oxygen, nitrogen, and argon), and is scheduled to commence operations by early 2021. The plant is estimated to produce industrial and medical grade gases for various sectors of the local and regional economy, including healthcare, chemicals, food, glass, and metal.
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Asia Pacific to Dominate Global Helium Market
- Asia Pacific dominated the global helium market in 2018. The helium market in the region is estimated to expand at a significant pace during the forecast period, due to rapid growth in end-user industries such as electronics & semiconductors, healthcare, and manufacturing, especially in developing countries such as China, Japan, and India.
- Europe also accounted for large share of the global helium market in 2018. Rise in investments in manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare end-user sectors; and development in aerospace and defense industries are likely to boost the demand for helium in the region.
- The helium market in North America is projected to expand at a moderate pace during the forecast period, as the helium market in the region is mature.
Highly Competitive Global Helium Market
- The global helium market is moderately consolidated; large multinational players dominate the global market.
- Key players operating in the global helium market include
- Linde Plc.
- Axcel Gases
- Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation
- Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
- Messer Group
- Weil Group
- Iwatani Corporation
- Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc.
- The Southern Gas Limited
- Ellenbarrie Industrial Gases
- US Gas
- Air Liquide
- North American Helium.