On February 22nd 2012, an official celebration will be held at PGNiG SA's Odolanów Branch to mark the completion of the modernisation process at the company's helium purification plant, PGNiG reported in a news release. During the last two years, thorough modernisation work has been carried out in Odolanów, which has improved the plant's purification and liquefaction capacities.
Poland is one of the six countries in the world which supply pure helium. PGNiG SA sells helium to Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, the Balkan states and Turkey, as well as to other countries.
The reconstruction of the EU's only helium recovery, purification and liquefaction facility commenced in March 2010 and ended in January 2012 with the launch of a new hydrogen removal unit, helium liquefactor and liquefied helium storage facility. Currently, the modernised plant is undergoing final tests as part of its commissioning. Total cost of the modernisation work amounted to PLN 27,734 thousand.
"Efficient and reliable work of our modernised helium facility has been a source of prestige to the entire PGNiG Group. The Odolanów Branch has been a reliable supplier of helium since its inception. Undoubtedly, the plant's location, relatively near to its customers, has been one of its major advantages," said Marek Karabuła, Vice-President of the Management Board of PGNiG SA, Petroleum Mining. "The advanced helium liquefaction unit not only allows us to process a nearly 30% larger stream of helium, but will also considerably reduce the amount of electricity needed to purify and liquefy the gas."
PGNiG sells helium in gaseous and liquid forms. Among the several dozen entities purchasing helium produced in Odolanów, Messer Group GmbH of Germany, selected in last year's tender process, has been Odolanów's key customer, buying liquid helium in wholesale quantities.
Due to its unique properties, applications of helium range from MRI scanners used in medicine, production of superconductors and optical fibres, welding and laser cutting, scientific research which requires working at temperatures near to the absolute zero to gas chromatography. Its most spectacular applications include rocket engine scavenging in space programmes and cooling CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva.
Natural gas is the only source of helium on Earth. The Odolanów plant has generated helium since 1970s from the nitrogen-rich natural gas produced by the nearby oil and gas production facilities. Since 2009, Odolanów has also received compressed helium concentrate from the Grodzisk Wielkopolski Denitriding Plant.
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