Re: Helium Supply

Bill Brown

Actually using hydrogen is very safe. We launched 10 balloons at GPSL last year and the year before that and all were using hydrogen.  Walmart helium tanks are manufactured by BalloonTime. They have 8.9 or 14.9 cubic foot of helium inside depending on whether you use the standard or jumbo size tanks (about $25 to $40 each tank). Enough for 3 pico balloons (36-inch Mylar foil balloons) but it would take a lot of those canisters to fly a large latex balloon which would be more expensive than a large tank even with the crazy price gouging they do to private individuals at the big gas supply houses. The other drawback to BalloonTime canisters is that about a year or so ago they started to do a "Specially Formulated blend that won't affect performance". The marketing folks had to work overtime on that one. Turns out that they are now selling 80 percent pure helium instead of the 98 percent pure helium they used to sell....and of course at a higher price. I had a long chat with a manager at their factory in Columbus, Ohio who claimed it wouldn't affect performance at all. Nice to see that marketing folks can change the gas laws :-( They won't consider doing a special run of pure helium either.

So go with a $55 large tank of hydrogen. You'll get better lift performance as a bonus. You will need a CGA-580 to CGA-350 adaptor to use a helium regulator with a hydrogen tank but the adapter can be bought on Amazon for around $15. Also, don't crack open a hydrogen tank unless there is a regulator on it.

I sometimes use the BalloonTime canisters for a Pico balloon flight in a school event since it is very convenient to not have to lug around a large tank.

- Bill WB8ELK

-----Original Message-----
From: jasonbunwin via Groups.Io <jasonbunwin@...>
To: gpsl <>
Sent: Wed, Apr 18, 2018 1:08 am
Subject: Re: [GPSL] Helium Supply

I am trying to organize an HAB flight for Civil Air Patrol. Praxair told us they won't sell helium to new customers. There are a lot of safety concerns about hydrogen. Is it possible to make a "blend" of hydrogen and helium that will make it less "dangerous" and lower cost? One group in Illinois is using Walmart helium tanks for their flight. That worked out be crazy expensive per cubic foot.

Jason Unwin

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