With their user-friendly design, the HELICS tanks double up as transport and storage vessels. “The helium tanks go to our regional subsidiaries – in Germany, for instance, this would be Lohhof near Munich,” says Richter, “where our colleagues either withdraw the inert gas in liquid form to fill dewars, which have a capacity of between 30 and 450 liters, or otherwise transfer the gaseous helium from the tanks into gas cylinders.” For this, the liquid has to be vaporized first or – in the case of cryogenic gas – preheated in a heat exchanger and then compressed. “If liquid helium is to be withdrawn, the pressure in the container must be as low as possible – 0.5 bar is ideal. If a HELICS tank has a pressure of 5.5 bar, for example, gaseous helium has to be withdrawn first in order to reduce the pressure. Only then can liquid helium be transferred.” These physical properties mean that liquid helium customers cannot use the full tank load of product as liquid. The actual amount available to them ultimately also depends on the route and duration of the transport. Linde guarantees a holding time of up to 40 days in HELICS tanks.