ONGC launches pilot project to extract Helium from Natural Gas

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Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu, May 11 (UNI) Faced with the increasing threat of depletion of Helium availability worldwide, Public Sector Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), today launched a pilot project to extract Helium from natural gas at its Kuthalam basin, near here, in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.

It was yet another feather in the cap of ONGC as the landmark achievement coincided with the World Technology Day.

''It is only a pilot project to demonstrate extraction of Helium from natural gas,'' ONGC Chairman and Managing Director R S Sharma told reporters after the launch.

''Today we have demonstrated the difficult part of the whole business, replicating of which cannot be more difficult in future.'' He said the plant was set up jointly by the ONGC and Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, in association with the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology at a cost of Rs six crore.

''This plant is a significant step towards the objective of assimilating new technology to make India self-reliant in Helium, a rare and precious gas, the largescale availability of which would play an important role in various strategic sectors like Space (Helium is used as coolant in cryogenic rocket engines), nuclear reactors and medicine,'' he added.

The plant was designed, manufactured and installed by the Adsorption Research Incorporated, (ARC) USA. In this plant, pure Helium is being extracted from natural gas by using a four-stage pressure swing adsorption technique for the first time in India.

Mr Sharma said most of the producing gas fields in India were in geologically younger formation, with the tertiary age younger than 60 million years, and have little or no Helium.

''But Kuthalam, is the first cretaceous age gas field in India, where Helium is present in 500 ppm (0.05 per cent by volume) concentration in the natural gas produced here, which is the highest in any Indian gas field.

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