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Air Leak Testing vs Helium Leak Testing for EV Battery Applications

Helium leak testing systems are commonly used in the automotive manufacturing industry. Helium is inert and made of the smallest gas molecules allowing it to pass through the smallest leak paths in components, subassemblies and systems. While helium testing is an effective solution in some applications, using helium requires substantial investments in tooling, gas recovery equipment, and the ongoing expense of buying the gas itself. As these costs increase, manufacturers’ profits shrink. The surge of global lithium-ion battery-cell production puts added pressure on EV battery manufacturers to produce at higher volumes without sacrificing quality, safety or profits.

Catalyst for Change

These new industry challenges were the catalyst for manufacturers to seek out potential alternatives to helium leak testing, and Uson was ready to help. Our extensive automotive application experience gives us a distinct advantage when assisting EV battery manufacturers with application studies and feasibility testing. We have a deep understanding of how the automotive manufacturing industry works and the challenges they face performing quality testing without industry standard guidelines. Through application studies and testing, our experts have successfully identified opportunities where air leak testing is an effective testing option for EV battery manufacturers.

Advantages of Air Leak Testing

  • Cost: Using air to leak and flow test has distinct advantages over using helium, the most obvious being the cost or supply of air. Both the upfront costs and ongoing maintenance costs of air leak testing equipment is significantly less expensive than costs associated with helium systems.
  • Speed & Accuracy: Uson leak testers use some of the most advanced sensor technology available, providing a high level of speed and accuracy. Our sensors are highly sensitive to part variations, ambient conditions, and environmental factors.

Air Leak Test Methods Best Suited for Most EV Battery Applications

  • Mass Flow: The Mass Flow test is very fast and a good fit for a wide range of leak testing, and is used for everything from medical devices to automotive parts, castings, and industrial components. The major advantage of the mass flow technique is that it eliminates the need to know the volume of the product. The mass flow leak test measures the amount of air passing through an object using units of measurement such as sccm or liters/time.
  • Pressure Decay: The Pressure Decay Leak test is also known as gauge decay, absolute pressure, leak drop or delta pressure leak test. This test method measures the drop in pressure on a gauge (transducer) during the leak test. Pressure decay testing is used to test products for leaks by trapping pressure inside a product and then measuring pressure loss.
  • Differential Pressure Decay:  The Differential Pressure Decay test is one of the fastest methods of leak testing, this method measures the drop in pressure inside the part over time as a result of escaping air. The change in pressure inside the part is compared to the pressure inside a control volume charged to the same pressure as the part. The differential pressure test can prove much more sensitive than pressure decay in certain leak test applications. The sensitivity of the transducer is not related to the actual pressure in absolute or gauge pressure terms, but to the sensitivity of the differential pressure transducer at the test pressure.

Take The Application First Approach

It’s important to remember that every application is different. An application study should always be the first step in determining if a Helium or Air testing system is best.

Uson continues to work with both EV battery manufacturers and system integrators to develop air leak testing standards and processes to support the industry in delivering the highest level of quality and safety to consumers. Our air leak testers offer reliable and non-destructive testing options for battery cells, housing, and assemblies.

Uson Can Help

Our experts can help determine if air or helium is best for your EV Battery application. Click here to contact us via email or call us at +1-281-671-2000.

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