CASE STUDY: Successful Field Trials of the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 at the Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association (ATTMA)

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The Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 is a completely unique technology able to compute air flow and air permeability, quantifying leak sites to complement a tightness test. The equipment was successfully tested and trialled at the Air Tightness Testing & Measurement Association in High Wycombe, UK on Friday 21stJanuary.

Outstanding Performance

Coltraco Ultrasonics’ Daniel Dobrowolski (Senior Physicist) and Bernard Hornung (Head of Built Environment) joined Paul Jennings (Airtightness Specialist) and Bill Bordass OBE (Building Scientist) at ATTMA’s Building Performance Hub to test the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 in a full-sized house. These trials followed testing at a recent Passivhaus property. Testing followed a Pulse Test and Door Fan Blower Test, both of which the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 is designed to complement.

The Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 performed outstandingly being able to identify and quantify leaks that had been found with traditional basic methods of leak detection such as thermal cameras, smoke pencils and anemometers, but most importantly find leaks that could not be found with any alternative method. A significant number of leaks were identified in window and door seals.

Aiding Door Fan Testing and Pulse Testing

The Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 allows the ultrasonic quantification of leak sites in a depressurised environment, which has never been achieved before, meaning that Door Fan Testing or Pulse Testing can be conducted at an appropriate moment, once detected leakage points have been identified and repaired. Uniquely, during these tests, the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 allows the location and measurement of air leaks, for remedial action that is precise, immediate, and often low-cost.

Buildings can be surveyed with a Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 before an air tightness test so that they have a better chance of passing and, if a building fails an airtightness test, the diagnosis as to why it has failed will include locating and quantifying air leaks with the Portascanner®.

Being able to use ultrasound to detect, locate, and quantify air leaks, eliminates the need for pressurisation, negative or positive. Therefore, the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 can test building components when they are manufactured, such as windows and doors, which is where most leaks manifest themselves, with the aim to eliminate leaks before installation. During the execution of a build programme, or in the case of offsite construction, during the assembly, building control to assure a better build quality should include the frequent and periodic use of the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520.

Development of the Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520

During Coltraco Ultrasonics long history in watertight integrity monitoring for the Royal Navy we learned that it was one thing to be able to identify large and microscopic leak sites, which is the ultrasonic equivalent of the Smoke Pencil Door Fan Testing. This alone will not however quantify the identified leak-site, but that it was quite another to quantify the leak site through the structure concerned to determine the water fluid rates, which is the crucial information to determine the damage control risk overall in a ships’ watertight compartment, watertight door or a watertight Multiple Cable Transit Area between bulkheads.

Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 takes our understanding of fluid dynamics at sea, and applies it to air flow dynamics on land, by taking the best ultrasonic technology in Coltraco hardware to identify leak sites with a microscopic level of accuracy and applying computer science to measure and quantify the leak-site by its algorithm, which also generates the air flow rate and the air permeability factor.

The ability to record and analyse these 4 factors makes Portascanner® AIRTIGHT 520 unique and complements the work in Door Fan Testing and Pulse Testing in the Built Environment in a British lightweight and hand-held analytical instrument. It has been designed during COVID19, was supported by UK Government COVID19 Emergency Technology funding in 2020, builds on our unique ultrasonic understanding of fluid dynamics for the Royal Navy to deliver the Safeship™ at sea, to now enable the Built Environment to monitor and analyse the airtightness of Buildings and to deliver the Safesite™ on land.