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I'm working on a pet project and I'll need some helium. I was wondering if there were any reactions that I could perform at home to produce helium cheaper than it would be to buy helium from someone else.

Anyone know of such reaction off the top of their head?

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    $\begingroup$ Helium is not known to react yet, to the best of my knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Jan Jun 13 '16 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have ready access to a star? universetoday.com/75803/how-does-the-sun-produce-energy $\endgroup$ – jerepierre Jun 13 '16 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ The US is effectively dumping helium so the price is depressed against the real cost. It's more cost effective and safer to buy a small cylinder e.g. for filling balloons at home $\endgroup$ – Beerhunter Jun 13 '16 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ It has been reported that the reaction of needles with toy balloons may yield vast amounts of helium. $\endgroup$ – aventurin Mar 27 '17 at 16:31
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Helium doesn't form any compounds, being a noble gas. That is, you can't extract it from any reaction, because you don't have anything that it reacted with already. Also, it would've probably taken much more energy to form that helium compound than it would've to actually extracted it from the atmosphere.

Now, you can produce helium, technically. That's what an alpha particle is: A loose helium nucleus bouncing about. But mucking around with radioactive things is dangerous and can be quite expensive.

As a note, you could probably extract it yourself if you have a natural gas well that you can access directly and a way to separate it out with fractional distillation. Almost all the gasses will condense out before helium does, which means you'll end up with very pure helium left behind, with a minor impurity of neon. This process is dangerous, however, as you'll both be working with very cold temperatures and have liquid methane running amok.

You could probably get a tank from it from a chemistry supply store somewhere. (Party supply stores add oxygen to prevent people from suffocating off of their tanks. The impurity is not insignificant.)

TL;DR: No, unless you're willing to irradiate or freeze yourself.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think you would have better throughput if you used the fusion of deuterium and tritium, though at a greater capital cost. $\endgroup$ – A.K. Jun 13 '16 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ True, but it'd also be much more expensive then simply using fractional distillation of ambient air. $\endgroup$ – orlando marinella Jun 13 '16 at 17:08
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The above answer is correct in that helium does not form any chemical compound. İt is formed in alpha decay. İn some minerals, this happens and the alpha particles are trapped in the mineral matrix. Dissolving this matrix releases the gas. I think the mineral was called clevite and the 'reaction' was noted by one of the early workers on noble gases.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's right: there are monazite, thorianite and other $\alpha$-radioactive minerals. Also, there are compounds like $\ce{He@C_{60}}$. Many people would argue these are "not real", or "not chemical" compounds. But anyway, you react them with something and they release helium, so there are such reactions, after all. This is not cheap at all, though. $\endgroup$ – Ivan Neretin Jun 14 '16 at 4:49
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Short of alpha decay (nuclear fission, radioactive decay), you're out of luck getting it from a chemical reaction. Most of the helium found on earth is recovered from natural gas extraction. Unless you know of a geothermal engineer willing to give you some on the cheap from a new deep well, you're best bet is to go to a chemical supply company or other traditional means of purchase. Best of luck.

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