The global helium market is worth about AUD$1.4 billion. Unfortunately, the world’s helium supply capacity is now falling behind the increasing demand for this strategic commodity, leading to shortages and cost escalation.
Currently, the only commercially viable source of helium is natural gas, with production mostly occurring via LNG plants. However, although Australia is the world’s largest LNG exporter, it has only one helium recovery plant and contributes merely 2.6% to global production. Helium production is challenging because of the high capital and operating costs associated with conventional recovery technologies.
This project aims to lower these cost barriers and add value to the gas industry by recovering the otherwise elusive helium in LNG production, while also developing the industry and creating new jobs in Australia’s energy resources sector.
To achieve this, the project will develop and demonstrate non-cryogenic technologies for helium recovery that can potentially cut the production cost by 50% compared to current approaches that are based on deep cryogenic processing.
The project’s key milestone will be the delivery of a pilot facility that enables industrial-scale demonstration of new adsorption-based technologies for helium recovery. This will allow the translation of novel helium-selective adsorbent materials and process technology from the laboratory into industry, and facilitate the demonstration of new, non-cryogenic process cycles for helium recovery.
This project aims to:
Start: July 2020
End: End 2022
Total Project Cost: $600,000
Oilfield Technologies: $150,000
Gas Capture Technologies: In-Kind
*Funding excludes GST