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Case Study: Infrared Thermography for Determining Heat Transfer Coefficients

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Technical systems and devices are often subject to the influence of thermal energy or heat up due to internal processes. Their efficiency and service life can be increased, for example, by optimised thermal management. The installed active components are usually optimised extensively for this purpose. Passive components, on the other hand, are often neglected in this respect.

Research activities, such as those at the Institute of Thermodynamics of Leibniz University Hannover (IfT), show that there is great potential for reducing energy requirements and increasing power densities. Scientists there use infrared thermography to analyse the heat transfer to surfaces in order to increase it in the future by means of suitable measures.

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Digital Image Correlation Calibration targets

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Successful digital image correlation requires accurate calibration. Correlated Solutions is proud to introduce an all-new set of laser-marked calibration targets with precision marker placement and improved contrast which provides more accurate stereo-camera calibration. This yields more consistent centroid extractions in VIC-3D and produces improved calibration scores. The end result is a more robust 3D digital image correlation system and improved accuracy in displacement and strain measurements.

In addition to the new Calibration Target Kit, Correlated Solutions is also now offering low-resolution calibration targets for cameras with less than one megapixel in total resolution. This is common with high-speed cameras such as the Photron Fastcam NOVA when run at higher speeds. The targets have fewer and larger markers, which allows VIC-3D’s algorithms to locate the centroids with more accuracy and consistency, improving the overall stereo-calibration and analysis results.

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IR camera Solar Panel Monitoring

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An InfraTec thermography automation solution supports the monitoring of one of the world’s largest solar tower power plants in the middle of the Atacama Desert.

Solar power plants usually suffer from the disadvantage that they only supply energy when the sun is shining during the day. CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) solar tower power plants are different: they charge a large thermal buffer storage during the day, which allows the continuous generation of electrical energy also at night‐time. One of these solar tower power plants recently went into operation in the middle of the Atacama coastal desert in Chile. It is the sunniest and driest desert on earth. The extreme climatic conditions prevailing in this region place high demands on the technology used there, including the eight thermographic cameras from InfraTec.

The power plant in Chile, named Cerro Dominador, comprises a 252‐metre‐high concrete tower with a cylindrical 360° solar receiver consisting of 16 panels surrounded by 10,600 movable mirrors arranged in concentric circles. The mirrors, known as heliostats, are controlled to reflect solar radiation directly onto the receiver’s absorber panels at the top of the tower. These panels, consisting of a tubular structure, have molten salt flowing through them, which is heated to over 600 °C by the concentrated solar radiation. The hot molten salt is led through pipes to the ground, where it generates steam via a heat exchanger that in turn is used to drive a steam turbine to generate electricity. Since the liquid salt can be stored in large insulated tanks for up to 17 hours, it is possible for this solar tower power plant to generate electricity continuously.

Temperature monitoring over long distances with infrared cameras
The solar tower receiver’s absorber panels can heat up to 800 °C and are monitored fully automatically around the clock by a total of eight infrared cameras from the InfraTec VarioCAM® HD series. Arranged in a circle around the tower, they form the backbone of InfraTec’s Solar Power Tower Check (SPTC) automation solution. Because of the VarioCAMs high resolution combined with a large field of view each panel can be redundantly monitored by two independent cameras resulting in much higher availability. The temperature and its distribution across the absorber are determined in real time and enable optimal control of the heliostats. At the same time, the permanent thermographic temperature monitoring provides life insurance for the billion‐dollar project: disastrous damage, caused for example by the overheating of individual panels or panel areas, is reliably avoided. The measurement of the panel temperatures also enables a precise analysis of the energy efficiency and supports the setting of optimal operating parameters for power generation. The goal is always to achieve the most homogeneous temperature distribution possible over the entire surface.

Automated monitoring under extreme conditions
Despite the extreme environmental conditions and the great distance to the measurement object, the SPTC system delivers pixel‐precise measurement results. This is made possible, among other things, by an infrared telephoto lens specially developed for this application, which has been adapted to the general conditions and enables very accurate temperature measurement even with strongly fluctuating ambient temperatures. The lens is precisely aligned with the receiver and only images the receiver in full format. As a result, the camera’s detector is automatically protected from direct irradiation by the sun and cannot be subject to lateral fatigue. The special design of the camera and lens means that there is no need for cooling of the protective housing, which significantly reduces maintenance and ensures continuous operation. In addition, the housing has a special rail and latching system, which guarantees quick removal and installation without time‐consuming adjustment of the camera in the event of maintenance.

Everything in view with highly sophisticated software
This technology is supported by specially configured SPTC software that enables the evaluation of the measurement data and supports all operating regimes of the solar tower power plant. Furthermore, with the help of artificial intelligence, the software allows software‐based, highly accurate stabilisation of the infrared camera image to compensate for thermal and wind‐induced mechanical movements of the tower and to enable pixel‐precise image tracking during the operating period. Due to the equalised representation of the individual measurement areas on the absorber surface, inhomogeneities as well as hot and cold spots can also be easily identified visually.

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Photron MH6 ST Head

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Photron has just released a new camera head for their already powerful MH6 Multi head high speed camera. The MH6 processor can utilise up to 12 of the mini ST camera heads, each capable of recording 1000 frames per second at full resolution 800 x 600 pixels. The Mini heads, at a size of 15 x 15 x 15mm and weight of 15g are a great tool for a wide range of industries, in particular in high G environments. The MH6 can utilise a combination of both HD camera heads and the new Mini ST head

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DIC in Ballistic Testing Research

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Correlated Solutions VIC-2D and VIC-3D products have been involved in a number of published articles. The below research into depth of indentation caused by projectiles is just one example.


Several three-dimensional scanning methods have been developed and improved over the past 40 years. The peculiarities of each technique, associated with the computational advances of the period, allowed the increasing application and diffusion of the technology in several sectors, among them those related to metrology in ballistics and the testing of protective materials. The specific goal of such ballistic tests is to estimate the depth of indentation caused by projectiles. In particular, this study presents a comparative analysis between two three-dimensional optical scanning methods, taking into account the same object of interest. The comparative analysis was based on reference planes detected by Random Sample Consensus methodology in each cloud. By comparing the results of the different techniques, it was found for this case that three-dimensional reconstruction by stereo images estimated values closer to the real ones in comparison to those estimated by the structured light scanner, mainly due to the fact that, for three-dimensional reconstruction, the image acquisition was conducted statically.

Stereo image capture process: (a) test setup for stereo image capture and (b) 3D reconstruction software


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Thermal Camera WELD-CHECK

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Using pulse thermography, WELD-CHECK enables you a quantitative assessment of the inspected welds. A special software algorithm analyzes the pulse-induced change in temperature in the tested joint and computes, based on its temporal course and geometric spreading, corresponding test results. These results are documented in a test report and provided in a format that can be used in your quality databases. This makes WELD-CHECK the ideal test system for automobile body assembly – both as an offline measuring unit as well as for in-line inspection.

Thermal imaging cameras of the high-end camera series ImageIR ® by InfraTec are essential components used in this system. Enabling a geometric resolution of up to (1,920 × 1,536) IR pixels, frame rates with some kHz and thermal resolutions below 0,015 K they provide the precise measurement basis for the reliable detection of even the smallest anomalies.


  • Different operating modes for Teach-In, testing and offline analysis
  • Provision of all relevant information in testing mode with live, difference, evaluation and reference image
  • Comprehensive representation of results
  • Offline mode for parameterisation and evaluation of large datasets
  • Flexible integration into the local system structure via universal interfaces and bus systems


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PFV4 High Speed Camera Software initial setup

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Photron’s PFV 4 is a powerful tool both in the acquisition and processing of high speed camera footage, but also in the setup of the Photron range of cameras. In the below tech tip, Bill Spinelli outlines some of the key components to setting up your camera and software to get the most out of both hardware and software.


IR Camera used for Fire Protection in Wood Pellet Storage

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FIRE-SCAN monitoring system in pellet production

Wood pellets as an alternative and high-quality fuel have become increasingly important in recent years. Their local origin from sustainable cultivation in the region has given WUN Bioenergie GmbH the opportunity to respond to market demand as an environmentally friendly supplier of raw materials. However, like other fuels, stored wood pellets need to be secured and monitored around the clock to prevent causes of devastating damage in the event of a fire, for example. Robust and reliable thermography solutions are a suitable tool for plant protection here.

At its Wunsiedel site, WUN Bioenergie GmbH has more than one string to its bow. Among other things, it operates a biomass cogeneration plant there. Treetop wood with a high proportion of conifer needles and twig residues are used as heating fuel, as these are cheap and environmentally friendly to procure. The water content amounts to about 30 – 60 percent, which does not pose any problems for the operation of a highly efficient ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) plant.

Fire protection with FIRE-SCAN

Wood pellets are a high-quality and energy-rich fuel. For this reason, the storage facilities must be monitored around the clock in the interest of fire protection. This is made possible by high-quality thermographic systems that simultaneously track the moisture content of the pellets during the drying process with high thermographic and geometric resolution. The real-time evaluation of the thermal images allows an accurate assessment of this process.

Fig. 1: The heart of the FIRE-SCAN hardware, well protected and equipped for continuous use

The FIRE-SCAN fire monitoring system from InfraTec is used in the WUN Bioenergie warehouse. This thermography automation solution is equipped with VarioCAM® HDx head infrared cameras and designed for a 24/7 continuous operation. The very stable and highly accurate digital infrared cameras of the VarioCAM® HDx head series from InfraTec are based on thermally and geometrically high-resolution microbolometer FPA detectors with (640 × 480) IR pixels and provide brilliant 16-bit thermal images in real time.

In addition to automated continuous monitoring, the associated software also allows manual interactions by the operating personnel. The surface temperatures measured by the cameras ensure constant quality monitoring of the pellets, as the FIRE-SCAN software monitors another threshold temperature in addition to the threshold values for early fire detection. This allows conclusions to be drawn about the moisture content of the pellets. Thus, the crane operator can actively ensure that the drying process runs smoothly. If the system detects a heat nest at up to 40 °C, the pellets are rearranged by the crane system. At 60 °C, they are removed from storage and, in the event of a fire, extinguished with quartz sand if necessary.


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High Speed Video – Combustion Studies

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Combustion research involves the complex study of a chemical reaction between multiple substances. The speed at which the substances combine is very high due to the energy that is generated by the combination of oxygen and heat or flame. The study of combustion is based on the knowledge of chemistry, physics, and mechanics. Combustion research is utilized in a wide range of applications, including engine testing in the automotive industry and in rocket and jet engine testing in the aerospace industry.

Photron cameras are often used in combustion studies due to their light sensitivity and PFV software which adds a number of features that prove helpful in those studies.

Academic Paper – Study of stratified lean premixed methane/air low-swirl turbulent flame

Simultaneous high-repetition rate (3 kHz) CH2O planar laser-induced fluorescence (PLIF) and particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements were performed in in turbulent low swirl stratified premixed methane/air flames to investigate the large-scale spatial and temporal evolution of the flame and flow dynamics. In addition, PLIF of OH and CH2O at a low-repetition rate (10Hz) were carried to study the global effect of equivalence ratio, ϕ, on the flame. A low swirler burner was used to stabilize a wide range of flames, from close-to-quenching lean flames to close to stoichiometric flame with ϕ = 0.9. The flames exhibit a laminar flamelet structure in the leading front and thickened flame structure with local quenching at the trailing edge. Detailed statistical data are obtained, including the velocity field, the mean flame location; preheat layer thickness, flame brush thickness and the flame surface density. These data provide a useful database for comparison of combustion model simulations. The results reveal interesting flame behaviour; depending on the equivalence ratio the large scale interaction between the flame and the flow field takes different forms.

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Video Examples – Blue Combustion