A nondestructive leak detection method for flexible food packages using hydrogen as a tracer gas

Eero Hurme (Corresponding Author), Raija Ahvenainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


A nondestructive leak detection method developed at Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) was tested for both gas-flushed and vacuum flexible packages.
In the method, a gas package containing 0.5 to 5.0% (vol/vol) hydrogen in nitrogen was positioned in a test chamber, a controlled vacuum was pulled in the chamber through a pipe connected to a hydrogen sensor, and leaking packages were detected by the sensor as increased H2 concentration.
The H2 tracer gas (0.5 to 5.0%) was introduced into leaking finished vacuum packages at 200 kPa pressure. Within 1 to 4 s the developed test method was able to detect leaks down to 10 to 15 pm and 20 to 30 pm in diameter in commercially manufactured gas-flushed packages filled with roasted meat balls and vacuum packages filled with ground coffee, respectively.
Before leak testing, the vacuum packages were charged with H2 for 30 s.
The sensitivity and leak detection time of the test method were improved when the H2 concentration in the package was increased and when the free space in the test chamber was decreased. The evaluated H2 concentrations did not affect the sensory or microbiological quality of the roasted meat balls.
This study clearly demonstrated that the hydrogen tracer gas leak detection method has potential to be further developed as a fast, nondestructive, on-line leak testing apparatus for flexible packages with or without a headspace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1169
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1998
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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