Detecting Gas Tank Leaks with a Visible Gas
Detection of leaks in aircraft fuel tanks is critical both during scheduled inspections and when a problem may be suspected. Aircraft have high per-hour operating costs; pulling one out of service for an unscheduled check can be a costly operation. The quicker and more accurately the inspection can be performed, the better.
Detecting leaks can be difficult. This TechNeed seeks a visible method of inspecting and identifying leaks in tanks, even for those aircraft in service.
The requesting organization imagines a visible, pressurized, inert, non-toxic, and non-contaminating gas that is introduced to an enclosed fuel tank. Because the gas is visible, escaping gas at leak points would easily be detected. The gas would be visible either unaided or by using a special light source. However, detection without specialized equipment is preferable.
Because the application is for aviation fuel tanks -- and some of the craft may be in service -- the gas cannot contaminate the fuel and must itself be inert.
Helium leak detection has been tried; but the gas collects in enclosed areas, thus making it difficult to detect the precise source of the leak.
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