Instrument quantitatively detects both refrigerant and fuel simultaneously

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Inficon’s Ecotec E3000 Multi-Gas Leak Detector is said to be the only instrument available today that quantitatively detects both refrigerant and fuel simultaneously – without sounding false alarms derived from other materials such as washer fluids and coolants.

“High-pressure fuel systems present a particular challenge to auto makers,” said Thomas Parker, Inficon’s automotive sales manager for North America. “No one wants fuel under high pressure spraying over a hot engine.”

Refrigerants replacing R-134a such as R-1234yf are much more flammable and create a greater need for a leak-proof environment. Assembly plants are looking for better sniffers, and Inficon provides unique systems to detect refrigerant leaks in mobile air-conditioning systems, as well as to find fuel leaks in direct-injection systems right on the assembly line.

“Inficon is critically aware of the issues driving changes in automotive refrigerants and high-pressure fuel systems. R-134a has a pressure of about 300psi, but its global warming potential rating is about 1,300 (after 100 years). By comparison, the GWP for methane is 23 and for NOx it is 298. R-134a is likely to be discontinued by 2020,” noted Parker.

Today not every automotive assembly plant has a final quality test for refrigerant systems. Some only rely on pressure testing on the assembly line along with helium testing of components such as hoses, evaporators, condensers, dryers, compressors and internal heat exchangers at supplier facilities.

Pressure-decay testing on an assembly line can detect leaks of between 1,000 to 10,000 g/year only; these tests cannot detect leaks at a level that meets SAE standards for mobile air conditioning components that are at a very small 2-5 g/year level.

The Ecotec E3000 is also ideal for mixed refrigerant production lines. The phase out of R-134a creates a situation in which older vehicle models using R-134a will roll down the same assembly line as newer models with HFO-1234y. A leak detector that can detect both refrigerants and is able to clearly distinguish between them, is a necessity for this type of mixed production line.

July 27, 2016

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive, marine and entertainment divisions. Currently editor of Automotive Testing Technology International, Crash Test Technology International and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as co-chairman of the annual Electric & Hybrid Marine Awards and can be found sniffing out stories throughout the halls of several of UKI's industry-leading expo events.

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