LeakMaster of Evansville, Indiana, has worked with INFICON, a leading provider of leak-detection equipment for the auto industry, to develop a system that accurately tests filler pipes quickly and efficiently, while at the same time using much lower concentrations of tracer gas than more expensive vacuum-chamber systems.
The move to capless fuel fillers has been driven by the auto industry’s need to meet stricter LEV II clean air regulations for passenger cars and light trucks that go into effect in 2017.
In the new LeakMaster system, a technician places the filler pipe into a test station. Position sensors then automatically guide connections to the component.
Pressurized helium gas is pumped into the test piece and an INFICON T-Guard sensor is used to test for leaks by measuring gas that escapes into a two-foot by five-foot test chamber. The cycle time for each test is 40 seconds or less.
“The LeakMaster’s test system is completely automated and provides cycle times and reliability equal to more elaborate vacuum-chamber testing at half the cost,” notes Thomas Parker, INFICON’s automotive sales manager for North America. “The smaller size of the system’s test chamber also reduces the amount of pressure and helium required for each test.”
As LeakMaster’s partner in the development of the new fuel-filler-pipe test system, INFICON provided input on tracer gas and tracer-gas accumulation in leak testing to LeakMaster system designers. INFICON application experts also provided additional detailed machine design assistance for the testing station.
“We determined that a vacuum system would have been much more expensive in terms of procurement costs alone, and this filler-tube test-system solution also provides some added savings in energy consumption and cost-of-machine ownership,” said Barry Money, president of LeakMaster.
INFICON T-Guard tracer-gas leak detectors currently are used to test a wide variety of automotive components ranging from fuel injectors, fuel fillers and heat exchangers each year. More than 50 million leak tests with T-Guard systems are performed annually on fuel injectors by auto makers and their suppliers alone.
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