Linde helium lifts Macy's Parade balloons for 21st consecutive year

Delivered from trailblazing Kansas plant celebrating its 50th anniversary

Nov 18, 2015, 06:00 ET from Linde North America, Inc.

MURRAY HILL, N.J. and NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J., Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The world-renowned balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade® will be filled with helium from a plant celebrating its 50th anniversary -- a plant that has supplied helium for the Parade dozens of times since its completion in 1965. The Linde plant in Otis, Kansas was a one-of-a-kind trailblazer, capable of producing liquid helium in larger quantities than ever before, helping to support a cultural and scientific revolution.

This year also marks the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. For this year's parade, Macy's is introducing four new giant balloons including Angry Birds' Red by Rovio Entertainment, the pre-historic and legendary Apatosaurus DINO by Sinclair Oil, Ice Age's Scrat and his Acorn by Twentieth Century Fox and Ronald McDonald®.  John Piper, vice president, Macy's Parade Studio, said, "Our long-term relationship with Linde gives us the helium that's crucial to bringing our world-famous balloons to life, as well as the reliability and service necessary for this event."

"I'm proud that this will be the 21st consecutive year that Linde has supplied the helium to fill the balloon that have thrilled young and old around the world," said Pat Murphy, President, Linde Americas. "I'm also proud to say that 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the trailblazing liquid helium plant we built in Otis, Kansas." 

Murphy added, "The Otis plant, built in 1965, was responsible for facilitating the early commercial use for helium. Before then, helium production and distribution had been controlled mostly by the U.S. government. What helped make the plant feasible were legislative changes in the early 1960s that allowed private industry access to the helium, as well as the extensive work Linde had done to develop markets for helium."

Since then, global demand for helium has grown rapidly as manufacturers realized helium's unique properties could aid in a wide range of applications. Demand came from such applications as superconductivity research, which fueled the development of MRI; from welding, where helium is used as a shielding gas; and from semiconductor and optical fiber production. The U.S. government remains a major consumer, using helium extensively in the space and defense industries.

The Otis plant refines crude helium purchased from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, as well as from private producers that extract it from natural gas fields in the U.S.

"In addition to its Otis plant, Linde, one of the world's leading helium supplier, also has access to helium produced by sources in Algeria, Qatar, Russia, Utah and Wyoming," said Eric Bass, Linde's Head of Helium & Hydrogen Product Strategy & Performance. "Linde supplies helium to its customers through a global distribution network that includes 48 local transfill, or distribution, facilities and has one of the largest fleets of specially insulated helium containers in the industry."

Helium's Journey to the Parade
Helium used to fill the breathtaking balloons begins its journey at the Linde Otis plant, where it is purified and liquefied. It is then filled into a trailer for shipment to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where Linde operates a helium trans-fill facility. It is there that pure helium liquid is converted to a gas and  compressed into four high-pressure tube trailers that are trucked to New York City. On the day before the Parade, Linde and Macy's staff assemble near the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, where workers begin inflating the balloons using a gas filling apparatus Linde has customized for the Macy's Parade. Early Thanksgiving morning, the balloons are topped off with helium and poised to join the Parade. The total amount of helium used is around 300,000 cubic feet, roughly the same as filling half a million Mylar balloons.

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Linde North America Inc., is a member of The Linde Group. In the 2014 financial year, The Linde Group generated revenue of  USD 17.9 bn (EUR 17.047 bn), making it the largest gases and engineering company in the world with approximately 65,500 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment – in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. The company is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.

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SOURCE Linde North America, Inc.