General Question

cockswain's avatar

Can you help me engineer this leak detection system for organic solvents?

Asked by cockswain (15249points) February 17th, 2011

I have a machine that supplies solvent via argon pressure. What I would like to do is install a leak detection system that would halt the argon, solvent (acetonitrile), and power to the unit if tripped. At the moment, I’m envisioning putting the unit in a tray, with the leak detector in the bottom. If it sees fluid, a NC solenoid will de-energize inline with the argon and solvent supplies, and open the power circuit.

What I’d like is assistance finding the best leak detector and maybe any other suggestions for the project design. I’ve got a leak detector on another somewhat similar machine and was going to start with that, but as this is in the very beginning phase of the project, any engineering assistance from someone with relevant experience might help.

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3 Answers

PhiNotPi's avatar

I’m sorry that I may not be qualified to answer this question, but these are my ideas.

If argon is what will be leaking, you could have some sort of argon detector, and some sort of system to direct argon to the detector. Since argon is heavier than air, you could have a collection device, like a tray, at the bottom of the device with the detector.

Another method of leak detection could be to measure the pressure at places where leaks would develop. You would have figure out what the pressure should be at each place, possibly by measuring the pressure when there are no leaks. Any drop in pressure would signal a leak. Look up pressure decay leak detection.

cockswain's avatar

Those are great ideas, but not suitable for my application. Argon is what is pushing the solvents through the machine, so I’m really not concerned about an argon leak per se. I want to cut the argon supply to prevent it from being able to continue to push solvent through a leaking line should one develop. I’ve thought of using a three way valve that would vent the residual argon out of the system to further minimize leaking.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Sorry I missed this. I don’t usually look at “Activities for you.”
I know of a company that makes a device that determines the molecular weight of the gas acoustically. It is perfect for detecting gasses with two disparate MWs. It looks for minute changes in the speed of sound at a known temperature. Argon in air is ideal. The units are very sensitive and can detect MW weight changes down to 0.01%, remotely. It can sample distances up to 3 meters. They are bit pricey, but worth it if your application fits. $30–50k. More if you need high temp.
PM me if you need info.

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