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ION Science launches portable SF6 leak detector offering selectable sensitivity

16 June 2020

ION SCIENCE – the manufacturer of high performance gas detection instrumentation for global occupational health and environmental monitoring applications – has just launched the portable SF6 (sulphur hexafluoride) LEAKMATE leak detector. The cost-effective, easy-to-use instrument offers selectable sensitivity and automatic zero.

With a detection threshold of 1 x 10E-6 mbar I/s, ION Science’s SF6 LEAKMATE is ideally suited to simple leak detection applications on SF6 switchgear, service and maintenance in SF6 switchgear production and mobile leak detection on test equipment for differential pressure and mass flow, etc.

The processor-controlled SF6 LEAKMATE features both an audible alarm and an LED bar graph display, allowing estimation if a small, medium or big leak is being detected. The LEAKMATE automatically compensates all ambient influences like temperature changes or movement of air in the room. Intelligent control sets up the instrument appropriately for the ambient situation.

It then uses the present gas concentration as its zero line and begins to look for even higher gas concentrations, which occur when a leak is approached. This will again be indicated audibly and visually. It is possible to determine leaks even in seriously contaminated areas.

SF6 is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents. Leaks of the colourless, odourless and synthetic gas in the UK and the rest of the EU in 2017 were the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3 million cars on the road.

It is a hugely effective insulating material for medium and high voltage electrical installations. It prevents electrical accidents and fires and typical applications include large power stations, wind turbines and electrical sub-stations in towns and cities.

Although SF6 is a non-toxic gas, it can displace oxygen in the lungs and cause asphyxia if too much is inhaled. It is approximately five times heavier than air and, if released or leaked in large enough quantity, will accumulate in low-lying areas where there is no natural ventilation.

For utility employees, this type of exposure is well within the normal course of duties when working on SF6-filled switchgear in enclosed spaces. Indeed, if a substantial quantity of SF6 gas leaks in an enclosed area, it can pose a real danger of asphyxiation to personnel.

*Further information is available online at www.ionscience.com