Rare Gases

Neon (Ne), Krypton (Kr) and Xenon (Xe) are referred to as the rare gases, as they comprise a minimal amount of the earth’s atmosphere. These rare gases are produced in the same cryogenic separation and purification process that produces oxygen, nitrogen, and argon but in much smaller quantities. Each of the rare gases was discovered by Scottish and English chemists, Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898, filling in the inert gases on the periodic table. Of these rare gases, xenon is the rarest, found in the earth’s atmosphere at only 1 part per 20 million. The use of rare gases has been growing in recent years in many new and exciting applications from medical to lighting to automotive and aerospace technology. These rare gases are often seen in not-so-rare places.

Rocky Mountain Air supplies neon, krypton, and xenon to the Rocky Mountain region (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska) and we offer both high-purity cylinders and mixtures to serve a multitude of industries. Though neon, krypton, and xenon have similar uses in lighting and in laser technology, the chemical properties and costs vary. We are happy to discuss your needs and suggest the best gas for your application. If you are interested in partnering with RMA as your rare gas supplier, please contact your local branch to speak to a representative today.

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Primary Applications


Neon has greater cryogenic refrigerant properties than helium by 40 times. Its cryogenic capabilities are used for freezing cadavers and preserving biological specimens. With its inert properties, neon fends off oxidation, making it a preferred gas for all types of lamps. Neon, often mixed with other gases such as argon, xenon, or krypton, prevents lamps from burning out quickly and becoming a fire hazard. Advertising signage remains the most prominent use for neon, with its red-orange glow, but its use expands to lasers, TV tubes, and high-voltage indicators. It’s also used in traffic lights and signals, in medical and scientific lasers, and diving equipment.

Krypton is a rare atmospheric gas that makes up 1ppm of the earth’s atmosphere. Krypton lights up blue-green, and even smoky white when conducted under an electrical current. Though more expensive than argon or nitrogen, rare gases like krypton offer longer lifespans and greater illumination for lighting in halogen bulbs. Krypton is used for high-speed and flash photography, in cinematography and videography as an illuminating component to high quality productions, for laser light shows and holography, for semiconductor chip manufacturing, in CT scans and MRIs, as a filler gas, and for electric spacecraft and satellite propulsion.

More than 4.5 times heavier than air, xenon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Xenon is unique in that it is used for launching and landing space shuttles. It also propels ion thrusters and due to its inert nature, it presents no risk of explosion when ions are discharged. Its blue hue can be sighted on spacecraft or airport runways, and it brings illumination to space odysseys and the abyss of the ocean for deep sea exploration. As with krypton, it is used in lighting of many kinds, including car headlights, arc-lamps for motion pictures, and in tanning beds. Its effects as a general anesthetic agent are well known and xenon is now being used in medical imaging.