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Specifically, if I wanted to purchase a large amounts of helium, what are my options for purchasing helium in a state that is suitable for long term storage?

It's my understanding that if I were to buy helium in bulk it would be shipped cold, as a liquid. Keeping helium in liquid form for 10-20+ years would involve a lot of serious refrigeration.

Are there other reasonable options for bulk, long term storage?

This may not seem like much of a "chemistry" question but since this is used in chemical sciences, I assume this is a need that some may be aware and may have a good answer since this is an elemental material that some may use on a very common basis.

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Steel baloon and helium in gaseous form may be an option, if you have enough space for it. Definitely, it will take much space, but it is still an option. Another option is cryogenic storage, but to my knowledge it is quite complex for liquid helium and requires regular income of liquid nitrogen. – permeakra Sep 25 '12 at 6:18
Just out of sheer curiosity, what is the helium for? – Richard Terrett Sep 25 '12 at 12:58
Richard Terrett: Retirement. ;) – RLH Sep 25 '12 at 15:25
You should read this page ( and the pdfs at the bottom. How big is your underground laboratory? – tobias47n9e Sep 25 '12 at 19:37
@RLH - I had my suspicions. Personally, I would go for a less... volatile investment. ba-dum-tish – Richard Terrett Sep 26 '12 at 4:30

In my experience, for small quantities in laboratories helium usually comes compressed in cylinders. Except possibly in the case that you require extremely high purity, I don't see why helium couldn't be stored for long periods in this form, it would be relatively safe and would avoid the need for refrigeration.

I don't know what sort of quantities you are thinking about, but it seems that you can get big cylinders. For example the largest cyclinder size available from BOC gases, a British company, is 194.7 $m^3$ filled to a pressure of 300 $bar$ (source: BOC website).

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Compressed helium stored in cylinders is what I would suggest too. If you have a large quantity, buy a natural geologic gas storage formation – F'x Feb 16 '13 at 11:18

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