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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 27, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta I Alberta scientists make progress in developing new helium system By KATHERINE KENNEDY EDMONTON (CP) Al- berta scientists are making significant progress in devel- oping a new system of extra- cting helium for natural gas, says Dr. H. W. Habgood, chief of physical sciences at the Alberta Research Council. The system is adapted for the province, where low con- centrations of helium in natu- ral gas make existing extrac- tion methods uneconomical, he said in an interview. It will be tested in a pilot plant to be built within two years by Alberta Helium Ltd., a company run jointly by the provincial government and two pipeline companies, Al- berta and Southern Gas Co. Ltd. and TransCanada Pipe- Lines Ltd. Helium, with the unique property of remaining a liquid near absolute zero, or minus- 273 degrees centigrade, is be- coming increasingly impor- tant in industry as well as in the generation and trans- mission of energy. "There are various indus- trial uses where an inert gas is needed to process metals for Dr. Habgood said. "Helium can be blown around to keep metals from corroding. It's also a good heat conductor." Electrical power could be conserved and its cost de- creased by one to two per cent if generators were cooled with liquid helium. Helium is also used for "su- perconductors" which can carry electricity long dis- tances and may, in the future, bring nuclear power from ocean-side reactors to metro- politan areas. An ordinary conductor heats up and electrical energy is lost because of resistance. But many metals below a certain temperature become su- perconductors and if a metal conductor were cooled in liq- uid helium there would be no such energy loss. Helium now is most com- monly used for pressuring liq- uid-fuelled rockets because it remains a gas at tempera- tures at which hydrogen and oxygen turn into liquids. As far as is known, all the rich helium deposits in the world are found in Texas, where approximately 120 bil- lion cubic feet of natural gas contain helium concentrations of about one-half of one per cent, said Dr. Habgood. YIELD SMALLER Alberta has 28 billion cubic feet of natural gas containing about one-tenth the U.S. con- centration of helium. While most of the Canadian gas is found in Alberta, some helium is extracted from an unusual deposit of non-com- bustible natural gas near Switt Current, Sask. Although the U.S. over- whelms Canada in terms of helium-rich deposits, develop- ment of the Canadian re- sources is important because countries outside the U.S. are concerned about alternative sources of supply, Dr. Hab- good said. "And there's a lot of talk about renewable resources.... Most things can be recycled. But helium, which is lighter than air, is always escaping in the atmosphere.... It really is non-renewable." If the pilot plant is success- ful, Alberta's engineering firms may become the world's experts in designing the extraction facilities. In the U.S., helium is ex- tracted by liquifying natural gas and separating the he- lium. The process costs the Texas industry about per thousand cubic feet. COST PROHIBITIVE Since Canada's helium con- centration is about 10 times lower than that of the U.S., the same process might cost roughly 10 times as much in Canada. So Alberta Research Coun- cil scientists have been ex- perimenting for three years with recovery methods more suited to Alberta conditions. The most promising is the permeation process, whereby natural gas is passed over a thin membrane of plastic which allows only helium and a small amount of methane to go through. Repetition of the process would purify the helium, Dr. Habgood said, and would cost less than per thousand cubic feet. The pilot plant would ideally be located near the helium- rich Kaybob gas field close to Fox Creek, about 140 miles northwest of Edmonton, and in the experimental stage would produce cubic feet of helium a day from one to three million cubic feet of natural gas. If successful, the per- meation-membrane process could also be applied to the separation of other gases, said Dr. Habgood. FIRST MUSEUM The New Brunswick Museum in Saint John was Canada's first public museum. February 27, 1974 THE LETHBRIDQe HERALD-39 THE WORLD ALMANAC IS FOR SCHOOL. The 1974 World Almanac and Book of Facts has to be the best friend a student ever had. Where else, in one volume, can you find a million facts at your fingertips about history, geography, government, politics, weights, measures, presidents, populations, colleges, laws, nations, personalities, sports, space, ecology and hundreds of other subjects? All the facts and figures you need for classroom and homework assignments are in the world's largest- selling single-volume reference. Get a copy for only at your favorite supermarket, newsstand, bookstore or at our Public Service Counter. This newspaper is proud to co-publish The 1974 World Almanac and Book of Facts. sasasassiss. New help for blind Dr. Eliot Berson of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston helps a patient use a recently developed electronic light amplifying device originally used by battlefield soldiers in Vietnam. The instru- ment enhances vision in dim light and may be beneficial to victims of a blinding disease called Retinitis Pigmentoss. Sears 3 days only console offer Desfc combination A Kenmore zig-zag sewing machine. Plus cabinet console for only more than portable price! Portable model S128.98 Sewing offer What an offer! You get this versatile, easy-to- operate Kenmore zig-zag that lets you do all the stitches you'll need, using simple manual controls. You can zig-zag, monogram, plain stitch, mend, buttonhole, fancy stitch, patch, overcast, dam, blind hem, applique, insert zippers and even sew on buttons. Includes bobbin winder, drop feed, hinged presser foot and variable speed foot control. Head guaranteed 25 years, electrical parts 2 years. Pnce includes comprehensive operating lesson. Plus an attractive Walnut finish hardwood console with top that opens up to a big 44" x working area. Even better. Here's what you get for just For just more than portable price you get zig-zag sewing head installed in desk-type cabinet. Traditionally styled with Walnut grain veneer. this compact desk houses all your basic sewing needs. Includes one storage drawer, plus open storage under leaf. Looks great, too1 Portable i a MUIIIHIMIIUW HNIIOIIBiy r Simpsons-Sears Ltd. at Simpsons-Sears you get the finest guarantee satisfaction or money refunded ana free delivery Ooen daily from 9 30 a m Jo 5 30 m Thursday and Friday 9.30 a m. to p m Centre Viilage Mai) Telephone 328-9231 The Icthhriiicic Herald Clip this handy form tor your copy of The World Almanac. Please mail copies of The World Almanac. I am enclosing plus 35c for handling and mailing charges for each copy NAME________________________________ AOOKSS______________________________ CTY STATE Zff if you prefer to pick up your copy. The World Almanac is available at The Lethbridge Herald Business Office for per copy. Mail to: The Lethbridge Herald, P.O. Box 670. Lethbridge ;