Re: Helium in a tank?

K. Mark Caviezel

I have encountered at least two industrial gas suppliers that offer lower cost 'balloon grade helium' which is not 99% or better helium.(!)  It is 30%-40% nitrogen.  The thought and rationale is that for normal party balloons, the inclusion of lower cost nitrogen allows persons to fully inflate party balloons, they'll float just fine and a bit cheaper than going with pure helium.  And this will very seriously screw up lift and burst calculations if you use it in a high altitude balloon. I've never used it.  But both times it was offered to me it took a surprising amount of dialog with the industrial gas guys to suss out that it is a 60-40 or 70-30% mix of helium and nitrogen. I don't necessarily fault the guys working at the industrial gas suppliers, they've undoubtedly been briefed that their balloon grade helium is the best stuff for filling balloons.  For 99+% of their customers that are filling balloons it probably is.

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