Leading equipment manufacturer Witt is lauding the advantages of using gas conditioning systems as an economical alternative for fault control purposes in industrial manufacturing processes.

Coolant gases such as R22 (chlorodifluoromethane) are soon to be prohibited for fault checking procedures, due to their negative environmental impact, with helium seen as the direct substitute from 2010 onwards.

Germany-based Witt believes that the use of gas conditioning system however, can aide the use of helium and mitigate some of the expensive costs associated with the inert gas. Furthermore, Witt can provide the technology at the heart of such systems, in the form of its gas mixing, metering and analysing system.

A gas conditioning system works as a self- contained unit. The test specimen undergoes fault testing in a hermetically sealed chamber. The actual leak control function is performed by an analysis system, registering leaking gas molecules down to ppm (part per million).

To minimise helium input, 85% nitrogen is added. However, the initial optimum mixture is constantly impurified with air during the testing process. This cannot be tolerated, as possible oxidation can damage both the test specimen and also the gas conditioning system. The mixing ratio has to remain constant throughout all phases of the testing process, in order to detect possible leaks.

The recovered gas mixture is then analysed and conditioned and can be re-used with the right helium concentration.

Gases such as R22 are used for fault control purposes in industrial manufacturing processes - sensitive products that have to be absolutely leak-tight are pressurised with this gas, and any gas leaks indicate that the part is faulty.

R22, which can only be used to the end of 2009, ends up as something of a 'climate killer' in the environment, which serves as the justification for the ban. However, using the comparatively extremely expensive helium as a direct substitute would accelerate costs dramatically. These increased costs involved in using the inert gas can be drastically reduced with a gas conditioning system though.

Christian Schmitz, Product Manager at Witt, explains, $quot;Savings of €20,000 per day are realistic. The helium conditioning system investment is recoverable in a short period of time.$quot;

$quot;It becomes more evident with consumption levels from several cubic metres per day,$quot; Schmitz added.