So many viewers of this blog have been asking about the shelf-life
of helium in small tanks. Here’s a compendium of the replies so far
received. The answer seems to be that provided that the taps are kept
tightly shut up until the moment of use, never tampered with, they can
be stored for many years, until rust sets in. – Derek Humphry
Helium shelf-life observations:
1. This is not scientific: I have had an 8.9 cu ft tank for the past
6-7 years which was used for many experiments. There is still some stuff
On the other hand, the previous tank was empty after six months.
possibly due to valve not shut sufficiently tight.
———Paul Zollmann, Canada
2. Helium is an element: it can’t “break down.” -But of
course it can leak. If one could be sure that the seal
were perfect so that not a single atom could escape it
would last until the tank became rusty and developed a
hole. The atoms of helium are so tiny, though, they
can pass through the microscopic pores of a latex balloon.
3. I will speak only to the “shelf life” of the gas itself. I sought
out and talked, independently, to the technical chief at two different
welding/gas supply companies here in Michigan.
The answer from both was that the gas would not break down or lose
—-Bernie Klein, Ann Arbor, Mich.
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