Helium Leak Detectors
Helium leak detection is a very popular way to perform nondestructive testing. Helium leak detectors, which use helium as a search gas, are used to pinpoint the source of a leak. These leak detectors are utilized in many different products and industries, such as medical implant devices, automobile air bags, radiators, and air conditioners.
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Applications of Helium Leak Detectors
Helium leak detectors are most often used in steam turbine and condenser air in leakage testing, chemical and plastics production, heat exchangers, and underground pipelines.
Helium leak detection is common in many industries, including:
- Hydrogen Energy
- Medical and Packaging
Many other leak detection devices and systems besides helium leak detectors are used in these industries as well. For example, electronic leak detectors make use of heated diodes to sense a gas leak within an environment and set off an alarm. Such alarms can be targeted towards multiple senses; some emit the smell of rotten eggs to get human attention, while others emit high pitched noises. Other leak detection products include gas analyzers, which arrived before the mass spectrometers to identify what the gas is, although they cannot identify where the leak is occurring. After the Freon gas scare in the 1970’s, with Freon leak detectors still in many older cooling system models today, the refrigerant industry has worked hard to ensure that no individual piece of equipment or the ozone layer are harmed by unheeded gas leaks.
Helium Leak Detector Design and Function
Helium leak detectors are available in automatic, semi-automatic, and manual testing systems. They are also available as portable mechanisms, particularly because leaks are often hard to access since they are among pipes, which can be underground, in the ceiling or in the walls. Helium is used as a gas detector because it provides excellent test sensitivity and is inexpensive, inert, and lightweight. It works by pumping helium gas into the suspect system and when the leak is found, the helium leak detector can measure the rate of the leak. Specifically, a helium mass spectrometer is able to release stored helium from a vacuum chamber within the detector mechanism and then read the ion response as the helium collides with whatever is leaking into the air. The leak rate is displayed in numeric and bar graph data on a touch screen. The leak rate helps gauge how fast the leak is happening, how much of the substance it is leaking, and what the substance is. It is a popular system.