Background Information

Helium was discovered by Pierre Janssen and Norman Lockyer in 1868 and was named after the Greek   God of the sun Helios. Helium is at the top of the noble gas group in the periodic table ( group 7) and it has 2 electrons. It is odourless, colourless and tasteless and is also non-toxic. It has some of the lowest melting and boiling points of all the elements. Helium only exists as a gas unless in extreme conditions.

How is it used in everyday life?

As you may know, helium is commonly used to inflate balloons using compressed helium. However, it is also used for other familiar tasks such as scanning your shopping at the supermarket – barcode scanners contain helium-neon lasers that transmit the information to the computer.

Helium is also used in scuba diving. Most people believe that air tanks are filled completely with oxygen, however too much pure oxygen can be damaging for the body. Air tanks are usually filled with 80% helium and only 20% oxygen.  Helium is not reactive.

Scuba divers