How to Calculate Helium's Volume Lift

Written by peter flom
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How to Calculate Helium's Volume Lift
(Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Helium can lift items because it is less dense than air. This is why helium-filled balloons rise in air. Hydrogen is even less dense than helium, and thus a volume of hydrogen can lift more than the same volume of helium. Hydrogen, however, is highly flammable and therefore considered dangerous. In fact, although hydrogen has one-tenth more lifting power, helium is safer and therefore more widely used in balloons.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Compute the weight of the helium. At room temperature and sea level pressure, the density of helium is 0.164 kilograms per cubic meter. For example, if you have 0.5 cubic meters of helium, it will weigh 0.082 kilograms.

  2. 2

    Multiply this weight by 6.125, which is the lifting power of hydrogen. In our example, multiply 0.082 x 6.125.

  3. 3

    The result is the lifting power of the volume of helium. So, 0.5 cubic meters of helium can lift 0.502 kilograms.

Tips and warnings

  • Kilograms per cubic meter is almost exactly ounces per cubic foot: 1 kilogram per cubic meter equals 28.3gr per cubic foot, so you can use either metric or Imperial measures.

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