When it comes to electricity, energy efficiency, and clean energy, Argon helps to power our world. It shows up in everyday uses in the home, workplace, and probably any building we enter. As the third most abundant gas in the universe, it has been harnessed for many important applications in the medical, construction, industrial, and food and beverage industries. It is also present throughout various electrical and clean energy applications that we use every day: incandescent light bulbs, energy efficient windows, and solar panels.
Argon is present in one of the most common household objects; one we cannot live without: the lightbulb. The invention of the incandescent lightbulb went through many trial stages before becoming what it is today. In the mid 1800s a light source was crafted where an electrical current ran through a wire until it heated up enough to emit light. However, because there was no shield around it to protect it from Oxygen, the wire quickly burned up.
Around the same time in the late 1870s, Thomas Edison and British inventor Sir Joseph Swan built a high resistance filament for the lightbulb encased in glass. Despite this leap in innovation, the invention is really a 19th century technology. Irving Langmuir had the idea to fill the glass with an inert gas to keep Oxygen out. By replacing Oxygen with Argon, the filament did not burn up, making the light last longer. Argon increases the life of lightbulbs while preventing blackening as the tungsten filament conducts heat and photons to generate light. Thanks to this technology and the use of Argon, we no longer have to turn to less-than-reliable candles and gas lamps to light the way.
When it comes to increasing the efficiency of thermal windows and insulating homes, there is one preferred inert gas for the job: Argon. Double or triple pane windows are not filled with air as the layperson might suspect, because air does not keep out moisture. Between the panes, Argon is sealed in to reduce condensation and fogging while keeping heat out during summer and in during winter.
We know that Argon is safe to inhale in small amounts even if windows break because it is used as a preservative in food and wine. Even so, windows have low leakage rates. These windows are not overly expensive and are well worth the long-term benefits as they are long lasting and energy saving. They may even keep the heating bill down, whether this be in the home or in the workplace.
Alternative sources for renewable energy have been growing vastly for many years, and Argon is a vital component in the very first step of making solar panels. Before the panels are assembled, each individual cell goes through an extensive chemical process. Silicon nuggets are placed in a crucible chamber among graphite heaters, where Argon purges Oxygen to prevent oxidation and enhance the purity of the cells. The more purely refined these solar cells are, the more energy they can generate. This vital first step sets up the rest of the process for success as the silicon wafer becomes an individual solar cell used for solar panels. Liquid Argon is used later in the process as well to clean debris from the tiny etchings of silicon wafers.
Although Argon is not the most expensive atmospheric gas, this process requires a lot of it to acquire maximum purity. Argon recycling and recovery is in high demand to cut down on costs and increase overall efficiency. Like many gases, its supply and availability fluctuate, and solar panels are in more of a demand not only in the US, but in developing countries due to outreach efforts to power homes.
The use of Argon in the production of light bulbs, windows, and solar panels are only a few examples of how this abundant atmospheric gas is used across the many industries we serve at Rocky Mountain Air. One of our specialties is creating customized solutions no matter what industry you operate within. We’re happy to evaluate the Argon use in your business and review the best delivery system to meet your needs, whether you are in need of liquid Argon or gaseous Argon. We have varying sizes of high-pressure cylinders and bulk tanks, including consistent delivery schedules and methods of refilling them for our customers.
Contact your local Rocky Mountain Air location in any one of our five states (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska) today to speak to a representative. We look forward to serving you!
Check back in the next blog for information on Argon recycling and recovery for increased application efficiency and cost savings within solar panel production!