Helium is a chemical element, it is part of the periodic table, it is in group 18, its atomic number is 2, its atomic weight is 4.0026 and it is represented by the symbol He. Its energy level is complete, so it is considered a noble gas.
It does not react, so it is inert. It is a monatomic, odorless and colorless gas. It has the lowest boiling point of all the elements and can only be liquefied at very high pressures. It cannot be frozen.
In 1868 a solar eclipse occurred, a French astronomer noticed a yellow spectral line emitted by sunlight, unknown until then. Another astronomer who observed the same phenomenon understood that this line was generated because of a new element which he named helium. In 1903, large reserves of helium were discovered in natural gas deposits in the United States. It is currently the country that produces this element in the largest quantities in the world.
In industry, helium is used in cryogenics, it is its main use, representing 28% of world production. It is also used in the cooling of superconducting magnets. Apart from these two uses, the most important application is for MRI scanners. Helium is useful for shielding arc welding and other procedures such as silicon crystal growth. These are 20% and 26% of the item’s utility respectively.
uses of helium
- Mixtures of oxygen and helium are used below depth because helium is characterized by its inertness, has less solubility in blood than nitrogen and can diffuse 2.5 times faster than nitrogen. This minimizes the time required to perform the decompression. Despite this, the latter should start at a greater depth minimizing the risk of suffering from narcosis, known as deep intoxication.
- Helium is lighter than air, unlike hydrogen, it is not flammable. Its lifting power is 8% less than that of hydrogen, which is why it is used as a filler gas for zeppelins and advertising balloons. Also in atmospheric survey and for doing reconnaissance in the military.
- It is used as an inert carrier gas for gas chromatography.
- Due to its low evaporation and liquefaction point, helium can be used as a refrigerant in very low temperature applications such as cryogenic research and in superconducting magnets at temperatures near absolute zero.
- In tunnels that have supersonic wind.
- The inert helium atmosphere is used to make germanium and silicon crystals as well as for arc welding. Another utility is the pressurization of the liquid fuels available to rockets.
- Liquid helium is increasingly used in medical applications involving magnetic resonance imaging.
- In nuclear reactors, helium is used as a coolant.
- In 2008, 22% of the world’s total helium use was for cryogenic applications. Most of them were used in medicine to cool superconducting magnets that were part of MRI scanners. Other important uses were in maintaining controlled atmospheres, in welding, and in sanitation and pressurization systems.
- The mixture of neon and helium is used for laser equipment very commonly.
- The uses of helium are very diverse. Sometimes it is necessary to resort to its unique properties such as low solubility, low boiling point, low density, low chemical reactivity, high thermal conductivity and that it is commercially available in gaseous form. and liquid.
Electron configuration of helium
The Electron configuration of this element is equal to 1s². Helium is not in group 2 of the periodic table where hydrogen appears located in the s-block, but is placed in group 18 belonging to the p-block because helium has its full energy level.
Helium is characterized by properties similar to those of a noble gas, it is inert, odorless, colorless and is a monatomic gas. Helium has the lowest evaporation point of all chemical elements and the only way it can solidify is at very high pressures.
It is also the second most abundant chemical element in the universe, after hydrogen. It is found in the atmosphere in the form of traces caused by the disintegration of other elements.