Detecting leaks

A quick way to detect leaks in containers

 
Published: Tuesday 15 August 2000

detecting leaks in containers could become a lot faster and easier in the future with a new technique developed by scientists at the University of Michigan. The container that is being tested, is filled with sulphur hexaflouride, a safe and inert tracer gas. A carbon dioxide laser then scans the surface at an ultrafast rate (around 6000 times a second). The gas escaping from the leak forms a cloud that is heated because of the laser beam. The heated cloud generates an acoustic signal that is processed and analysed using a sophisticated sonar analysis method known as matched field processing.

A computer then reconstructs the signal and traces it back to the leaking hole. The technique is fast and can be used to pinpoint leaks smaller than a hundred thousandth of a cubic centimetre in a matter of seconds ( www.acoustics.org ).

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