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The photoacoustic effect may be exploited for the detection and localization of gas leaks from otherwise sealed components. The technique involves filling the test component with a tracer gas, and radiating the component to produce photoacoustic sound from any leak site where tracer gas is present. This paper describes demonstration experiments utilizing 10.6-µ radiation from a carbon-dioxide laser and sulfur hexafluoride as a tracer gas for photoacoustic leak testing at leak rates between 6×10–5 cm3/s (1 cm3 in 4.6 h) and 5×10–9 cm3/s (1 cm3 in 6.3 years). The technique may reach or exceed the capabilities of the most sensitive commercial leak test systems using helium mass-spectrometers. In addition, comparison of the measured results to a simple scaling law suggests that tracer gas cloud geometry influences the photoacoustic signal amplitude.
Date Posted: 27 July 2005
This document has been peer reviewed.