I’m writing in response to “Coping with the Helium Shortage” (C&EN, Feb. 4, page 18). The National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC), of which I am chief executive officer, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the justice and defense communities through innovative programs, evaluation of the latest technologies, training, laboratory support, and consulting. NFSTC has been using hydrogen as a carrier gas since 2008 for deployed operations. This was done as part of a Defense Threat Reduction Agency project to develop field-portable forensic testing laboratory capabilities, including a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer for the military.
NFSTC worked with FLIR Systems, which makes the Griffin 450/460 series GC/MS, to convert the units’ carrier gas to hydrogen, easily produced by a hydrogen generator. This allowed for operation where helium was not readily available and with no loss in analytical capability.