Alternatives To Non-Returnable Gas Cylinders “Lecture Bottles”

Disposing of Non-returnable gas cylinders can be very expensive and time consuming. (These are not the type of cylinder that are rented from Airgas or other vendors.)  In the event that your research requires the use of small compressed gas cylinders, please follow this preferred method for procurement and disposal.

  • Work with Airgas, MIT’s preferred gas vendor, to determine if the gas you need can be purchased in a returnable and refillable cylinder. Airgas can also provide various size cylinders to reduce the potential safety hazards involved in the use of hazardous gases.  They can advise you about other vendors who sell the gases that Airgas doesn’t.
  • Order the smallest returnable or refillable cylinder possible. For example, Airgas’s SAFE-T-CYL program can provide the following gasses in returnable cylinders. (Sulfur Dioxide; Hydrogen Chloride; Ammonia; Chlorine)  Matheson Gas has several options which can be found on
  • Another option is to have a cylinder partially filled with only the amount of gas that you need so you reduce your cost and you reduce the hazard. 

Cost of disposal

  • For research labs and workshops (refer to next bullet point for the exception) that require the use of non-returnable compressed gas cylinders, be prepared to manage the cost of disposal for these types of cylinders at the time of purchase. Contact for specific details and pricing that may be associated with the cylinder you purchase. The MIT Environmental Management Program (EMP) will work with the lab to determine the associated costs of transportation and disposal of these cylinders and will do its best to reduce the cost to the lab for safe management. In the event that the cylinder is shipped for disposal, the DLC will be charged and should therefore provide an account number on their red tag for billing purposes.
  • Exception:  There is no charge for small propane cylinders that are used for hot work, unless the workshop has to dispose of more than 5 at a time. For any cylinder, we only charge back if the cost of disposal is over $50.

Inventory of cylinders

  • To minimize the cost of disposal to the Department, Lab or Center (DLC) keep an updated inventory of the cylinders you have in the lab, identifying the owner of the cylinder and associated hazards to prevent any future safety issues. Refer to the instructions on