VES’ Head of Clean Energy, Richard Hodgkinson, talks about the current state of the fuel cell industry, and why we created OptVol.

What are Fuel Cell manufacturers currently using to leak test their products – and why isn’t it working?

Right now, fuel cell manufacturers are currently using pressure decay as a method of leak detection. This is not fit for purpose – the achievable leak rates are well above the allowable leak rates of the industry. With pressure decay, any temperature changes or fluctuations during the test will result in false passes. This results in inefficiencies in the stack, and potentially bigger problems with water ingress or leakage of the electrolyte.

What impact is this having on these manufacturers, and on the Fuel Cell industry as a whole?

The impact is seen in stack efficiencies and potentially harmful water ingress when the products have been shipped. The manufacturer’s customers are potentially receiving faulty products or inefficient stacks. The whole industry needs a shift in testing methodology and to move towards a more reliable leak test to provide the customer and the general public with more guarantees of 100% leak-tight products.

How does OptVol address these problems?

At VES, we saw that pressure decay was not a viable leak testing method, so we decided to create the ideal machine for leak testing fuel cells. Our goal was to enable manufacturers to meet the required leak rate standards with a cost-effective, highly-engineered solution.

The OptVol machine is our new all-in-one leak detector specifically designed and developed for the fuel cell industry. OptVol uses the hard vacuum method of leak testing – this method isn’t affected by temperature changes or other external factors, meaning it provides the customer with a greater leak tightness and guarantees product integrity.

OptVol stops the possibility of a faulty cell passing the leak test, giving customers 100% leak tightness guaranteed.

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