Tutorial Course Descriptions

Detailed Syllabus

V-206 Helium Leak Detection Theory and Technology

The tutorial course is designed for people who have minimal knowledge of helium leak detection applications, terminology and detector design aspects, but who will be tasked with evaluating and conducting their company’s leak detection requirements such as selecting the correct test method, acquiring equipment and/or performing the detection processes.

As it is important to know the inner working of a helium leak detector and to understand its basic maintenance requirements, the emphasis of the course however will be focused on using the leak detector in various applications. This task requires a basic understanding of vacuum technology as well as its components and design aspects. Without this knowledge it could be more difficult to determine when to actually start using a helium leak detection process and most importantly which method to select.

Additionally, proper understanding of how to connect a helium leak detector to a system and how to apply the helium tracer gas are essential elements in obtaining fast and correct results. Missing out on these criteria quite often leads to missing leaks, faulty indications and losing valuable time in a production environment. Also, not being able to meet tightness criteria because of the incorrect application of helium leak detection technology, can affect the quality of the products being created in a vacuum environment such as a coating or evaporation system.

Topical Outline:
  • What is a leak? Sizes of leaks and how they can affect system and production performances.
  • Terms and units of measure used (the “buzzwords”) in vacuum and leak detection technology.
  • Vacuum technology basics (gas load, conductance, virtual leaks, permeation, pumps speed, etc).
  • The correlation between pump speed, gas load and pressure.
  • Understanding and recording vacuum system behaviors to know when applying helium leak detection technology.
  • Operational principle of a helium leak detector.
  • Helium leak detector versions/models.
  • Helium leak detection methods (hard vacuum, sniffing, bombing).
  • How to best hook up a leak detector to a vacuum system.
  • Discussion of the various vacuum pumps used in systems and their effect (benefits or drawbacks), when performing a leak detection process.
  • Response time, cleanup time and appearance time definitions.
  • Parallel operation.
  • In depth understanding of helium spraying and sniffing technology
  • Calibration procedures.
  • The proper use of the “Zero” feature.
  • Determining an acceptable leak rate and selecting the appropriate test method and leak detector (portable or stationary, wet or dry, sensitivity, degree of automation).
  • Helium management (controlling the ambient helium concentration, detector background levels, the use of purges) and leak detector maintenance issues.
  • Basic leak detector operation (start-up, calibration, testing, venting).
  • Practical use of the leak detector preferable in conjunction with process equipment.
Course Details:



Instructor: Pieter N. Palenstijn,
Pieter N. Palenstijn received his education in the Netherlands in electrical engineering and electronics. He worked in the field of vacuum technology since 1972. Initially the focus was on Ultra High Vacuum being responsible for service on mass spectrometers, surface analysis equipment and electron beam evaporation systems. Since 1980, after moving to the USA, Pieter started the helium leak detection activity for Alcatel, where at a later date he was responsible for their worldwide activity. He continued this activity for Varian Vacuum Technologies till retirement in 2009. During an interim period Pieter was Vice President of Advanced Technical Resources, a company focused on providing solutions for industrial leak detection. Pieter is co-inventor on 7 patents related to leak detection technology.

This course is currently available via:
On Location Education Program

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