Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Helium and Temperature
Name:  Kyle
Status:  student
Age:  14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
Does a helium filled balloon rise faster in hot air or cold air?


Replies:
If the only thing made different is air temperature, then helium will rise faster in cold air. The decreased temperature makes the air more dense, heavier. This makes the baloon act a little lighter. It rises faster.

Note that other things, such as air pressure and the helium temperature, can also affect things.

Mellendorf


Cold air. It's denser.

Tim Mooney


If the balloon were in a controlled room, and the air temperature is 0 for instance the air would be denser and the balloon would rise faster than in a room filled with 100 degree air, the change of speed would probably be unnoticeable by eye though. If however, this were done outside and the warm air was rising itself the balloon may travel faster due to the rising thermals.

Baldwin


I would suggest trying it! Get two helium balloons, as close to the same size as possible. Time how long it takes for one to rise at room temp. Time the other one in a bathroom or small room that you can heat up (by running the shower or using a portable heater). Good Luck.

Katie Page


Helium gas escapes from a rubber balloon because it is able to diffuse through the rubber. You may have noticed that aluminized mylar party baloons stay inflated much longer because He doesn't diffuse nearly so rapidly through the Al film.

Vince Calder



Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory