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New leak detection system 'can find leaks a hundred times smaller than a spray'

WR Refrigeration, Climate Center and A-Gas have collaborated on a new leak detection system, which they claim offers improved accuracy by using a hydrogen-nitrogen mixture in place of the conventional OFN.

Trace-A-Gas is a non-flammable, non-toxic mixture of 5 per cent hydrogen and 95 per cent nitrogen.

The contractor has worked with distributor Climate Center on trials to prove the effectiveness of the approach in the field. Hydrogen makes an excellent leak indicator, the partners say, as its exceptionally small molecular size penetrates the smallest fractures, pinpointing tiny leaks that are almost impossible to detect using traditional methods.

Used in conjunction with an electronic detector, such as Javac’s GAS-Mate, it enables engineers to identify and locate much smaller leaks than is possible with Oxygen Free Nitrogen and a leak detection spray. Engineers have long used the OFN pressure test to check for leaks. In the event of pressure loss, leak detection spray is often used to try and pinpoint the source, but the smallest leaks are difficult to find, especially in less accessible areas, WR says.

The partners claim use of the Trace-A-Gas will enable engineers to find refrigerant leaks as low as 5 g/yr, a hundred times smaller than the 500 g/yr minimum possible with leak detection spray.

A-Gas believes that the new system will enable detection in areas that were previously considered impractical or inaccessible. UK business director John Ormerod said: “The molecule is so small that it can even allow you to detect through insulation.”

It is also delivers results much more quickly than conventional methods, as any leaks show up immediately, so engineers are not required to wait for the results from the pressurisation test.

Patrick Mullins, WR Refrigeration’s marketing and business development director, said: “The F-Gas Regulation requires an unswerving focus on leak detection and minimisation. It is not only a legal requirement but an environmental and economic imperative. Customers require assurance that their plant is designed, built and maintained to the highest standards, and Trace-A-Gas gives us an edge in leak elimination.”

The contractor will also use Trace-A-Gas to prove leak-tightness in new equipment from its WR Products division, as well as in existing installed equipment in use in the field. The A-Gas product, which is compatible with a standard nitrogen regulator, is available from Climate Center branches nationwide.

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