VES’ Head of Clean Energy, Richard Hodgkinson, discusses how helium leak testing can unlock the true potential of fuel cells.

What impact are sub-par leak testing methods having on the fuel cell industry as a whole?

A sub-par leak test can have a knock-on effect that can – and is – affecting the whole industry. As the fuel cell market is currently still fragmented, and does not have as much capital as larger, more established markets, the leak test has been an area that has been overlooked on most production lines – and is somewhat lagging behind the leak test technology curve, i.e. using a simpler, less effective technology.

A poor leak test for fuel cells affects the whole industry – this poor leak test is not fit for purpose, and could falsely pass leaking fuel cells, resulting in reduced stack efficiency. Not only could this reduction cause customers and consumers to question the reliability and real-world usefulness of fuel cells moving forward, but these subpar manufacturing processes will also eventually drive up the cost of the cell manufacturing cycle due to re-testing and waste.

How can OptVol Technology help fuel cells move us to the next level of clean energy?

OptVol Technology provides the industry with proven technology, appropriate to detect the leakage at the required threshold (EN1779 – Non-destructive testing), whilst offering manufacturers the statistical process control data to optimise quality and production throughput. This data and level of control is simply not available with lower sensitivity leak test technology.

We have now seen in real-world applications that the adoption of Optvol Technology can improve MSA scores for manufacturers, allowing them to reduce waste in the forms of scrap, motion, waiting and re-work – whilst improving their ppm scoring with the end users of the cells/stack.

By guaranteeing the correct level of leak tightness and not passing sub-par product, manufacturers can be sure that the stack will work at optimal efficiency. That way, the world can see how well fuel cells can perform when they are at their best and appreciate their true potential. Helium Leak testing is a must for this industry moving forward, and the sooner it embraces that, the sooner we can move to that next level of clean energy.

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