Plant & Works Engineering
Wetting your appetite!
Published:  09 April, 2008

A recent addition to the highly competitive thermal imaging camera market is Testo with its new 880 model. Although the company is best known as a manufacturer of test and measurement instrumentation, Testo managing director, Tom Tonkins, says the thermal imaging range grew out of its understanding of the marketplace.

The new Testo 880 is a hand-held unit which has a trigger key for fast freezing and recording of infrared and digital  images, a five-way joystick for fast menu navigation and a large crystal clear screen. Up to 1000 images can be stored or offloaded to a computer via a USB connection. It is competitively priced from £3549 (plus VAT).

Specific features include IR-lens protection glass for dusty environments, a shock-absorbing robust housing and a minimum focus distance of 10cm. The Testo 880 is also available in four kits. The top-of-the-range 880-3 model includes an integral digital camera, among other additional features. It also includes a number of accessories such as a telephoto lens, and costs, less than £7000, including VAT.

However can the market sustain a new addition? PWE asked Testo's Daniel Auer who explained: "The demand for thermography is growing from day to day. The market volume will probably rise in the next couple of years. This is already an interesting signal for a company. If you look at Testo, Testo has a history of 50 years of measurement history. We started with temperature measurement - simple thermometers. We also have a long history of infrared measurement. It is therefore a very logical development for our company to expand our single point radiometers, single point infrared measurement instruments to focal plain arrays where we have images of the temperature we measure.

“If you look at our competence in measurement and also in infrared measurement, all the knowledge was already in the company. It was very easy for us to increase the complexity a little bit.

“If you look at the market in terms of volume, the building services sector in the one that is increasing most. But Testo has a long history in industrial applications as well. One of the difficulties in the development process for us was to develop a camera that was not only suitable for the building services market but also for predictive maintenance. We have been talking to customers in the industrial field about their demands, and their needs, to develop a camera that is suitable for the industrial market.”


Greenhouse gases detection

Other developments include Flir Systems" ThermaCAM GasFind IR gas leak detector, which has allowed companies to incorporate infrared into their leak detection and repair programmes (LDAR) providing a far quicker and more efficient method than traditional toxic vapour analysis. 

This success has led to further product development and the introduction of an infrared camera specifically for detecting greenhouse gases that are not visible in the mid-wave infrared band; sulphur hexafluoride and anhydrous ammonia are typical examples.  This new camera is the ThermaCAM GasFind IR LW.  It is based on the standard model but as its suffix suggests it operates in the longwave infrared band.

Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)I s a relatively expensive man-made chemical released by electrical substations where it is used as an electrical insulator in equipment that transmits and distributes electricity.  It is also used as a cover gas in the magnesium industry, in the manufacture of semiconductors, for thermal and sound insulation, as a tracer gas for ventilation efficiency and in medical applications. 

Although SF6 is extensively recycled leakage is still a concern.  Excessive exposure can harm human health and of the internationally monitored greenhouse gases it has, by far, the greatest global warming potential – 23,000 times that of CO2

This gas is included in the European Pollutant Emission Register, a vast database that catalogues European industrial pollution.  It requires affected industrial plants to identify leaks from a range of 50 pollutants that they emit into the air or water in quantities over a given threshold.  The ThermaCAM GasFindIR LW allows plant managers to see, and hence, reduce the emission of sulphur hexafluoride with ease.

Although the detection of SF6 is a key selling point for this new camera it is not by any means the only gas that it can detect.  It is designed to see a wide range of other gases too including anhydrous ammonia that is widely used as a refrigerant in large cold-storage facilities. 

The new ThermaCAM GasFindIR LW actually shows any leakage point or points of sulphur hexafluoride gas in real time.  It can detect small leaks from several metres away and big leaks from hundreds of metres away and in trials has proved able to see leaks that have eluded a traditional active laser system.  In addition to making leaks visible, the camera is able to scan large areas quickly, greatly increasing inspection speed and improving overall plant safety.  It can also be used without stopping any operation or process. 

At the heart of the cooled ThermaCAM GasFindIR LW is a 320 x 240 quantum well infrared detector (QWIP) that is optimised to detect sulphur hexafluoride and other gases.  Due to their absorption characteristics, the gas leaks appear as black smoke on the camera’s viewer and the events can be captured on video for easy documentation or e-mailing.

In common with its forerunner, this model is designed for operation in harsh environments and in a wide temperature range from -50°C to 15°C.  It has an industrial shock rating of 40G and can detect gas levels down to 5 grams per hour.  A scan rate of 50Hz or 50 frames per second allows the efficient inspection of dynamic events without image distortion; a 25mm lens with 22° field of view is provided as standard with the camera but 11° and 5.5° lenses are also available.

Weighing under 2.3kg the ThermaCAM GasFindIR LW has an NETD of <35mK.  The camera is designed for single-handed use and fingertip control provides easy access to all functions.  Auto-level capabilities are provided for optimal clarity and images can be viewed on the built in colour viewfinder or on the LCD screen of the video recorder.  Rechargeable batteries provide four hours of continuous use.


High temperature camera

If monitoring and viewing processes in very high temperature environments such as furnaces, incinerators, boilers, cement and steel plants, is what’s required, Thermoteknix Systems says its ThermaScope is also able to offer a solution.

With a water cooled stainless steel protective camera housing, automatic fail-safe pneumatic camera insert/retract mechanism and camera interface, signal processing circuitry and services control unit, ThermaScope is available both as a low cost high resolution CCTV video system or as a fully radiometric temperature measuring model either as a stand-alone unit or integrated into Process.

ThermaScope SLK displays bright clear real time thermal images of high temperature processes and measures temperature at every point in the field of view. A key factor in efficient and safe operation is the ability to accurately monitor the combustion process and sends real time thermal images and unlimited temperature data of the process to the control room PC. As fuel flow, operating conditions or fuel quality changes, it gives operators and control engineers a clear image and instantaneous temperatures at any spot or within any area of interest.

Alarming warns of unwanted temperature extremes and process variation while direct external outputs enable interfacing and automated control.

High temperature kiln, furnace or oven operating conditions are continuously monitored by the ThermaScope SLK. Abnormal conditions such as over or under temperature, poor temperature distribution or irregular flame shape is instantly shown. These can be alarmed and interpreted by the Operator or Process Engineer with user-friendly analysis tools and temperature displays.

ThermaScope HTV (High Temperature Video) is a non-radiometric high temperature video camera which displays high resolution real time imagery and is a lower cost option for those wishing to view clear images of their combustion processes without the need for measuring temperature.

Both ThermaScope systems claim to help to improve pyroprocessing efficiency, increase combustion control, save energy and reduce pollution in your high temperature processes.


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