Methodology to quantify leaks in aerosol sampling system components



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Texas A&M University


Filter holders and continuous air monitors (CAMs) are used extensively in the nuclear industry. It is important to minimize leakage in these devices and in recognition of this consideration, a limit on leakage for sampling systems is specified in ANSI/HPS N13.1-1999; however the protocol given in the standard is really germane to measurement of significant leakage, e.g., several percent of the sampling flow rate. In the present study, a technique for quantifying leakage was developed and that approach was used to measure the sealing integrity of a CAM and two kinds of filter holders. The methodology involves use of sulfur hexafluoride as a tracer gas with the device being tested operated under dynamic flow conditions. The leak rates in these devices were determined in the pressure range from 2.49 kPa (10 In. H2O) vacuum to 2.49 kPa (10 In. H2O) pressure at a typical flow rate of 56.6 L/min (2 cfm). For the two filter holders, the leak rates were less than 0.007% of the nominal flow rate. The leak rate in the CAM was less than 0.2% of the nominal flow rate. These values are well within the limit prescribed in the ANSI standard, which is 5% of the nominal flow rate. Therefore the limit listed in the ANSI standard should be reconsidered as lower values can be achieved, and the methodology presented herein can be used to quantify lower leakage values in sample collectors and analyzers. A theoretical analysis was also done to determine the nature of flow through the leaks and the amount of flow contribution by the different possible mechanisms of flow through leaks.