Helium is one of the abundant elements found in nature. It is the 2nd element of the periodic table. Helium has various uses and we find helium in our day-to-day life. The air we breathe has helium in it along with other elements.
We know the air also contains oxygen which is highly flammable, actually the most flammable. Without oxygen, nothing can burn.
So, staying alongside oxygen, one may think that helium can also burn. Let me put you to a relief that helium doesn’t burn or explode. Likewise, helium tanks can’t explode too. It’s inflammable and doesn’t catch fire.
Even though it doesn’t catch fire, let’s take a deep dive into the topic to learn more for your safety.
What is Helium?
If you are a chemistry enthusiast, you definitely know what helium is. It is the second most element of the periodic table. The chemical notation of helium is its first two letters He.
It is a gas that is inert in nature. Inert means not taking part in any reaction. Helium is the second lightest gas in volume. It is colorless, odorless, and gas without any taste.
However, it covers around 23% mass of the whole universe. So, in general, you can not easily identify the presence of helium gas because of these features.
Every explosion and combustion is the result of a reaction. Since helium is an inert gas, it clearly doesn’t take part in any kind of reaction. And ultimately doesn’t explode or catch fire.
Can Helium tanks Catch On Fire?
Due to its inability of taking part in any reaction, the helium gas doesn’t catch on fire. The molecular structure of helium is very stable when it is with any inert gases. Without helium catching fire, a helium tank is most likely not to explode.
Helium is so much stable that many times it is used as a fire extinguisher. The less reactivity of helium makes it very less susceptible to fire. And instead of catching fire, it extinguishes it!
And you will be surprised to know that helium is used in rocket propulsion. It works as a safe environment for not letting any kind of fire spread. So, without any doubt, helium tanks most certainly don’t catch fire.
At What Temperature Do Helium tanks ignite?
The reason helium is called an inert gas is it is non-combustible. The molecular structure of helium follows the duet rule of chemical bonds. The duet rule defines that an element is most stable when its valence bonds complete the whole pair.
The atomic number of helium is 2. That means it has only two electrons in the valance shell. Thus it becomes impossible for helium to take part in any reaction, i.e it doesn’t ignite.
But one thing that helium does is the fusion reaction. This reaction occurs when the temperature touches the mark of 100-200 million kelvin.
When this temperature is achieved, the helium fusion reaction causes ignition and converts itself into carbon-like atoms which may catch on fire. This reaction can be seen in the sun. Yes, that amount of temperature can only be gained in the sun.
So, the only place where a helium tank can ignite is the sun. Otherwise, a helium tank doesn’t ignite.
Is the Helium tank a fire hazard?
Helium is definitely not a fire hazard. If anything, it is the protector from fire. Whatever the temperature is, the helium will most certainly not catch on fire.
Let’s consider the helium tank, is it possible for a helium tank to be a fire hazard? Consider the scenario: a helium tank is placed inside a room that has fire everywhere.
If the tank leaks under the high pressure from the fire, it will start releasing the helium gas inside. And we know helium doesn’t catch on fire. So, with the spreading of helium, the amount of oxygen will be reduced.
After some time, when the oxygen has depleted, due to the presence of helium, the fire will put out itself. So, from this, we can reach a decision that a helium tank is not a fire hazard.
What happens when you put helium tanks on fire?
Well, nothing happens when you put helium tanks on fire. If you were expecting answers as it will explode, then sorry to disappoint you.
Helium tanks don’t explode if you put them on fire or keep it outside in the sunlight for a long time. The only time helium tanks explode or catch fire is when you put them in the core of the sun.
Only the temperature of the sun can facilitate a helium tank explosion or ignition. In our world, it is impossible for a helium tank to explode.
Can helium tanks explode into the fire?
No, they cannot explode into fire. Firstly helium is a noble gas. It doesn’t take part in any type of reaction let alone combustion. And without taking part in a combustion reaction, it cannot explode.
Secondly, a helium tank is made in such a way that it prevents any kind of explosion. A helium tank is sealed with a burst disc.
So, even if the tank is kept in a place full of fire, the burst disc allows the release of helium gas in the environment at a certain rate which prevents the fire from spreading more. And keeps the tank safe from exploding itself.
Is it okay to leave a helium tank without sealing?
If you are referring to the point that keeping a helium tank without sealing will cause explosions or catch fire, then it is okay.
But helium is a gas. So, keeping a gas tank without sealing means that the gas will fly out. Then again, helium is much less dense and very much lighter than air. So, it is certain that if you keep a helium tank without sealing, the gas will fly out of the tank.
people also ask (FAQs)
At what temperature helium tank will explode?
The helium tank doesn’t explode. But it is advised that a helium tank should be kept at a place where the temperature doesn’t exceed 49 degrees celsius.
Is it safe to have a helium tank?
It is pretty much safe to have a helium tank. They are fire-resistant, and also a kind of fire extinguisher. So, there isn’t any risk of keeping a helium tank.