Why is helium hotter than argon?
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  1. #1
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    Why is helium hotter than argon?

    A welder working beyond its capacity can often be helped with helium. What makes helium "hotter"? Is it the open nature of the atom making it easier to ionize, and conduct better?
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  2. #2
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Actually it is the opposite; Helium is a poorer conductor of electricity than Argon, so the arc voltage is higher. For example, a 200A TIG arc with straight Argon is around 14V; a 200A arc with straight Helium is around 25V. So about 2800W with Argon, vs. 5000W with helium. Same amps but many more watts, and watts are what makes the heat.

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  3. #3
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Thank you, I've been puzzled by that for some time.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  4. #4
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Willie B / Silicon-based

    I hate to 'muddy the waters' . . .

    http://www.engineersedge.com/heat_tr...vity-gases.htm

    Note the differential between Argon and Helium [compared to all].

    A fluent understanding is beyond my faculties - the reference is a 'starting point'.

    Silicon-based

    Is the elevated heat generated by Helium: due to resistance - or conductivity?


    Opus

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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?


  6. #6
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Quote Originally Posted by OPUS FERRO View Post
    Willie B / Silicon-based

    I hate to 'muddy the waters' . . .

    http://www.engineersedge.com/heat_tr...vity-gases.htm

    Note the differential between Argon and Helium [compared to all].

    A fluent understanding is beyond my faculties - the reference is a 'starting point'.

    Silicon-based

    Is the elevated heat generated by Helium: due to resistance - or conductivity?


    Opus
    Thermal conductivity is not the same as electrical conductivity. The more appropriate reason is the ionization potential. In a helium atom, the [only] two electrons are closer to the nucleus than the outer-most electrons in the argon atom. The electric force attraction that is a direct result of the [very small] electron-orbital-radius is much stronger due to electrical attraction being an inverse-square law. The outer shell of electrons in argon atoms are that much further away that they "rip out" easier with much lower voltage differential within an argon cloud. For example, for every doubling of distance that electrons are from the nucleus of the atom, the electric force attraction is one-fourth as much from the reference point. Vice-versa, if the electrons are twice-as-close, electric force attraction is 4x as much from a reference orbital. The electrical ionization energy is a manifestation of this electrical force attraction between electrons and nuclei.
    Last edited by Oscar; 11-19-2015 at 11:22 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    I will add another.......when welding aluminum on DC why is helium used and not argon?

  8. #8
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    My understanding is that Helium makes the arc hotter, which burns thru the oxidation, in one of Jody Collier's videos he talks with a guy about welding Aluminum on DCEN, which has no cleaning action unlike DCEP, the weld is very sooty. He also states that you only use up to 200 amps, if you want more penetration you turn up the CFH of the Helium, as much as 40 to 50 CF or more. He says that this is advantageous if you need deep penetration, and you can come back over the top of the weld with AC to clean it up. On DC Electrode Negative the heat is in the work material, with DC Electrode Positive the heat is in the tungsten/torch which limits your amps. A 3/32" 2% Lanthanated tungsten can handle 250 amps of DCEN, 200 amps of AC, but only 30 amps of DCEP. You can weld Aluminum on DCEP with Argon, but the penetration will be very low, on DCEN without the Helium the weld puddle will contaminate too much to weld. My understanding is that Helium works on Aluminum the same way that C25 or C02 works on Steel, it carries more heat because it's a reactive gas. Helium puts the heat into the work, but C25/C02 puts the heat into the electrode which only works on MIG processes, in TIG processes it burns up the tungsten/torch/aluma cups. With Mig on high amps with C02 you're welding by spraying the molten metal into the weld bead like the way a RPG blows thru tank armor. Pretty cool right?
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  9. #9
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    According to this article by Lincoln "hotter with helium" is merely an optical illusion.
    Don't shoot me, I'm only the messenger!
    http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us...netration.aspx

  10. #10
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Quote Originally Posted by rexcormack View Post
    According to this article by Lincoln "hotter with helium" is merely an optical illusion.
    Don't shoot me, I'm only the messenger!
    http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us...netration.aspx
    From what I read, they confirm that helium is indeed hotter.

    "Shielding Gas Type: shielding gas types also have an effect on weld penetration. Shielding gases with a higher rate of thermal conductivity, such as 100% carbon dioxide (CO2) or 100% helium (He), will produce welds with a broader, deeper penetration profile. While shielding gases with a lower rate of thermal conductivity, such as 100% argon (Ar), or an Ar / CO2 or Ar / oxygen (O2) blend, have a shallower penetration profile that is more tapered in the middle (see Figure 4)."

  11. #11
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    To keep it simple. The heat in the arc is roughly measured by current and voltage. So for any given current since it takes just under 16 V to work with argon and just under 25 V to work with Helium you get roughly a 55% increase in heat in the arc by utilizing helium ( that is for pure helium).

    Another way of looking at it is this way. Everyone knows that if you increase the arc gap you increase the voltage which in turn increases overall heat input. Same concept by utilizing helium instead of Argon you are increasing voltage.

    For those looking to look up additional more in depth information you can start with Ionization Potential of different gases.

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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

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  13. #13
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Dang it, I guess I wasn't awake yet when I commented!
    What I meant to comment on was Lincolns assertion that increased arc voltage has little affect on penetration.
    So I went back and reread the article and they seem to contradict themselves.
    In separate places in the article they say that Helium increases arc voltage, penetration and arc voltage changes have little affect on penetration.
    Or am I still asleep?

  14. #14
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    The first ionization potential for Helium is 24.5874 volts second is 54.417760 volts

    for Argon 15.7596 , 27.62965 , 40.74 volts. I dont have the link but most of this information can be found in the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.

    I believe the higher volts needed to ionize is what creates the higher heat. From what Ive noticed with Helium is; the torch gets hotter faster and so does the metal. Also, it sounds different coming out of the regulator.
    Last edited by Insaneride; 11-20-2015 at 11:08 AM.

  15. #15
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    It does increase the arc voltage, but is minimal, 2-3 volts (GTAW), which from what I gathered is negligible. In the wire example they increase the voltage significantly before noticeable changes are observed. I kind of skimmed the article as well.

  16. #16
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Ive welded Ti (hobby stuf) with Helium and Argon with DC Tig. The Helium works much better than Argon because the Ti likes a lot of heat. Ti can be welded with Argon but needs more amps.

  17. #17
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    @ Willie B - He is hotter because the HEAT it carries across the boundary layer is 3 times that of Ar. He is lighter than Ar. The electrons in either an Ar or He plasma arc only contribute 80% of the total heat input.

    Tom Eagar (MIT) explains. Answer discussed at :21 - :26 e.t. in the vid.

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  18. #18
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Good video. "... the physicsts and the chemists understand, but they would never talk to a welder. So what difference does it make? ..."
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  19. #19
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldendum View Post
    Good video. "... the physicsts and the chemists understand, but they would never talk to a welder. So what difference does it make? ..."
    Tom's awesome! Very "hands-on" and pragmatic-based deliveries. As a tenured wizard at MIT, he loves to rebel against the typical cubicle-management mindset prevalent at most academic institutions.

    Check out all of his vids.........posted several at our Metallurgy sticky.......and you will learn tons of real-world, integrative, examples of solid state & fusion welding, cutting, fabrication, and economics of metals/materials. Tom worked at Bethlehem Steel back in the day. His stories are packed full of excellent ~useful~ knowledge and lessons learned. An iconoclast who always asks 'Why'? My kinda of cat.

    He commonly cites, "Scientists explain that which exists; Engineers create that which never was". My corollary, "Fabricators/Weldors/Builders produce what Engineers envision"
    Last edited by ManoKai; 11-20-2015 at 01:27 PM.
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  20. #20
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    I will check out his other videos. Back in the day, Bethlehem was more than just raw steel.

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  21. #21
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    I use Helium because its much faster on AC projects and time is money for me ......

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  22. #22
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

    I can indeed say that adding helium makes for a hotter arc. On my table project that I am working on I struggled to puddle the thick aluminum plate. Once I added helium to the mix I puddled very quickly and with less amps

  23. #23
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    Re: Why is helium hotter than argon?

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    Yeah but with Helium you can't be lazy.....you gotta move fast with deliberate dabs and pedal down....



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