Will This New Type of Leak Testing Change Your Industry?

Helium mass spectrometer

Leak detection services have a number of different applications, all of which are extremely useful to the industries that retain them. However, when it comes to the average consumer, the leak testing procedure that probably has the biggest effect on their daily life is package testing: to ensure that food, medical devices, and other devices are preserved and transported without compromising their sterility, manufacturers rely on different leak testing methods to find holes and problems with their packaging. This tactic helps the manufacturers prevent customer complaints, increased production costs, and even financial penalties connected to food and medical safety. In the case of medical devices, investing in leak tests can even prevent serious complications for the patient, including death. However, some of the tracer gases used in leak testing, like helium, can often be quite expensive. Additionally, some leak tests may not be suited for certain applications. For this reason, the introduction of a new type of leak detection service is drawing attention from many in the industry.

When it comes to testing food packaging, manufacturers typically use water-based testing methods to find holes and other flaws. However, because this test is usually administered visually or manually, the products are typically only sample-tested. This means that if any problems are discovered, entire batches of food must be either repackaged or thrown out to preserve the product’s quality. Moreover, compromised products are destroyed when they are tested, creating further waste. Now, a new from of leak detection service is attempting to use food-grade hydrogen to examine each product for leaks, removing the need to throw out entire batches of food.

Food grade hydrogen is typically used to disinfect different foods before consumption. The new leak test uses concentrations of up to 4% hydrogen, similar to the concentration found in a bottle of hydrogen peroxide you might keep around your house. This low-level solution can be used with no impact on the food, and can be used to test meat, poultry, pre-packaged salads, nuts, dried fruit and coffee.

Unfortunately, it is unclear how this new leak detection service will be received by the public: in past years, food grade hydrogen was falsely advertised as a cure-all for various illnesses and household problems, causing a number of accidental poisonings and fires. For this reason, many manufacturers may be wary to test the new method. Additionally, while other tracer gases have become more expensive in recent years, this method is unlikely to transfer to other industries because of the flammability of the product. Instead, many companies will likely turn to air tests and other non-toxic leak detection services, which are just as effective as other tests, use an inert gas, and are usually less expensive.