The operations of industrial assets without interruption are possible through routine maintenance regulated by periodic non-destructive tests. In industry, most accidents occur due to leakage in components, causing loss and destruction. Helium Leak Test is a profound method of detecting leaks compared with pneumatic and hydro tests. It provides accurate test results in less time, and the chances of errors are minimal compared to other leak testing methods. The helium Leak Test is crucial for uninterrupted production.
Industrial facilities like Chemical Plants, Power Plants and Oil & Gas industries demand helium leak tests regularly. Components and equipment in these sectors work 24/7 with highly sensitive elements which have a high potential for generating leakage. The timely inspection with Helium Leak Test can detain the risks of fatal accidents.
Industries that integrate the below-mentioned components often need the Helium Leak Test for regular intervention –
- Heat exchangers & Condensers, Power Plant Turbines
- Fugitive Emission of Valves, Manifold seals & Bellows
- Vacuum vessels and systems, Medical devices
- Fuel lines & Hydraulic lines, Radiators & glove boxes,
- Systems used in hazardous environments.
- Vacuum furnaces & vacuum coaters,
- Semiconductor process equipment
- Laser process equipment & Gas handling systems,
- Hermetically sealed packages, Liquid gas facilities & Cryo tanks
Helium leak test is widely used in industry sectors such as Petrochemical Industry, Manufacturing Industry, Pharmaceutical and Fertilizer.
Three Basic Techniques to perform Helium Leak Testing
Process of helium leak detection changes as per the component’s characteristics. There are three methods to conduct helium leak tests that give precise results –
This technique uses Helium as a tracer gas coordinating with instruments that help detect the presence of Helium in the environment. This method locates the leak by sniffing the possible leak path. Leaks that are detected in sniffer techniques can also be repaired. Sniffer Technique is not quantitative and requires an operator’s skill in determining leaks. Immense care has to be taken as sniffing is indicative at a level of 1×10-5 atm.mm3/sec. diluting Helium and exiting leak path due to significant air movement. The primary purpose of the sniffer technique is to elevate the internal pressure within the part of the above ambient. As Helium is in the internal volume, the sniffer probe identifies the source of leakage where the leak might exit.
This technique has the same set-up as the sniffer method. The only difference is that the Helium is sprayed on the component through a vacuum probe to search for possible leakage in the component. Helium passes through the passage on the test object connecting to the detector, indicating whether the leak is present in the area where the helium search gas is exposed.
The tracer probe test is best used on seals, flange connections, weld seams and many more industrial assets.
The Hood Technique includes covering the component with plastic before the test begins. The area between the component and the hood is filled with Helium from the search gas reservoir. The total outer surface of the component exposed to the Helium. Further, the Helium enters through all leaks present in the component detecting the total leak rate on the machine. The hood test is considered the best to examine small vessels.
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