30
Nov 2021

Integrity Testing of Seals Using Tracer Gas - Helium

Integrity-Testing-of-Seals-Using-Tracer-Gas-Helium

Using helium as a tracer gas is the most sensitive and commonly used tracer gas leak detection technique for CCI. When moisture-sensitive pharmaceutical products are lyophilized, their shelf life is extended, and they are better prepared for storage and transportation. A lyophilized medicinal product's quality is ensured by maintaining consistent moisture content. Proper container closure system (vial, stopper, seal) selection and sealing conditions are equally important factors. Demonstrating Container Closure Integrity (CCI) is one way of achieving this goal.

Why use helium?

Helium gas is one of the smallest molecules. In addition to being non-flammable, non-destructive, non-toxic, and inert, helium only has a trace presence in the atmosphere. Helium is generally safe to employ (compared to hydrogen) since it will not react with any of the components in the test part. Mass spectrometers detect helium in the vast majority of leak testing applications. A residual gas analyzer, on the other hand, is also an option. In general, helium leak testing ensures higher levels of sensitivity than conventional pressure decay methods.

Tracer gas method to test seal integrity

Tracer gas leak testing is a simple and very effective way of detecting leaks that offer great sensitivity, accuracy, and repeatable results. Being one of the most effective method of leak detection, tracer gas leak testing offers great sensitivity and accuracy. Micro-leaks between 1x10-4 to 10-9 scc/s can be detected using the tracer gas leak test, which utilizes the tracer gas - helium. Tracer gas leak testing can be done with either pure helium or by mixing it with another gas such as nitrogen or dry air to reduce the overall cost. A mass spectrometer is used in the standard test method for measuring package and seal integrity. Due to its low concentration in the atmosphere, and its detection using a mass spectrometer, helium is employed. It is done by injecting helium into sealed packages or adding it to sealed package’s headspace after sealing. In the following step, a mass spectrometer is used to identify and measure the presence of helium in the surrounding enclosed space.

Vacuum test method is the commonly employed tracer gas method for testing the seal integrity of pharmaceuticals products. In this method, seals are put under stress by a vacuum, which measures tiny leaks. Helium transfer rate captures the real transmission rate through the material as well as via the seals. Transmission of helium through the material as well as seals is captured by helium transmission rate. As a result, the vacuum technique is more effective in detecting leaks since it monitors helium gain in the external environment within the enclosed sample.

When packaging seals are tested for integrity, it helps guarantee that the packaging offers necessary product protection for patient safety. To ensure product quality, package seals must be reliable. Seal integrity tests are commonly used to evaluate sustainable packaging options, lower-cost packaging, and changes in manufacturing line sealing parameters, among others. Evaluating the seal strength of packing materials with reduced costs and alternative sealing procedures confirms that the seals do not leak over time.

Leak Detection Associates (LDA) designs and manufactures high-performance tracer gas (helium) leak detection systems to ensure the integrity of seals for the pharmaceutical and biological industries. Helium leak detection is the one of the most effective leak detection method to identify and locate leaks in a closed system.

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helium leak testing, mass spectrometer, helium mass spectrometry, mass spectrometry, helium detector
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25
Nov 2021

Applications of Helium Leak Testing Across Different Industries

Applications-of-Helium-Leak-Testing-Across-Different-Industries

Helium leak detection is referred to as the process of detecting leaks in various packaged or sealed systems by utilizing helium as tracer gas and measuring its concentration as it escapes due to leakage. A package system such as a vial that consists of a container and an elastomeric closure, is a good example. The vial is filled with helium and vacuum is applied. The quantity of helium that escapes from the package is quantified and expressed as a leak rate. A pre-filled syringe, a foil pouch, or a cold form blister card are some more examples of package systems. Each of these package types is designed to keep the pharmaceutical product enclosed while keeping out potentially harmful environmental pollutants like dust, bacteria, or even gases. The helium leak testing method can evaluate each of them.

Helium leak testing is widely utilized in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries because of its relevance in guaranteeing package integrity and quality. Now, let us see how these sectors benefit by using this technique.

1. Pharmaceutical Industry: The pharmaceutical industry has experienced enormous progress in terms of technological developments and drug delivery system innovations over the last two decades. However, such developments have created new quality assurance challenges for drug manufacturers. As a result, pharmaceutical manufacturers give major priority to both quality control procedures and pharmaceutical package leak detection.

CCI Testing is a leak detection technique that evaluates the capacity of container closure systems to maintain a sterile barrier against external contamination. These tests may be divided into two types: probabilistic test and deterministic test. Although probabilistic test methods like Bubble Tests and Dye Ingress were initially common, due to technological advancements, non-destructive approaches are now the preferred way for ensuring container integrity. Hence, pharmaceutical manufacturers are encouraged to switch to more dependable deterministic test methods, such as helium leak detection, which offer quantitative findings that are assured and precise. By using helium leak detection early in the development process, companies can improve the quality of their drug delivery system. This not only saves money and time, but also improves safety.

2. Medical Devices Industry: In the medical device industry, package integrity testing is important since product failure presents considerable risks to patients and healthcare professionals, as well as liability for manufacturers. Barriers between fluids or gases are frequently used in medical equipment. These barriers must be functional in order to safeguard the patient and, in many cases, the medical equipment. Some devices operate as channels for delivering or extracting fluids to or from specific parts of the body. If a leak develops along the channel, fluids might be supplied to the incorrect place by mistake or wrong fluids could be extracted, resulting in hazardous effects. As a result, medical device industries use various CCI test methods including helium leak testing to ensure package integrity.

Helium leak testing is the most common tracer gas method in the medical device industry. Helium or a helium-air combination is used to pressurize the test component within a vacuum chamber. The chamber enclosing the part is next evacuated, generating a vacuum that allows the helium to enter the chamber through any leaks. A mass spectrometer designed to detect helium takes a sample of the vacuum chamber and ionizes any helium detected. Even a small amount of helium is easily detected in this method.

The major reason for choosing the tracer gas technique by manufacturers is the necessity for high leak-detection sensitivity in particular medical device equipment applications. Product testing is a crucial part of the device production process in the medical industry. As quality requirements have gotten increasingly strict, leak testing has become increasingly important for medical equipment as well as pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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helium leak detection, helium test, leak detection, helium detector, helium leak testing, pharmaceutical package leak detection
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