“Thermography can be applied in any situation where a problem or condition can display itself by means of a thermal difference.“
Property managers and building owners, maintenance and process engineers, manufacturing companies and facility managers of all types are always concerned with the condition of their facility and equipment under their care. All would agree that proper maintenance, management of energy resources and quality of construction are necessary for optimizing safety, performance and cost savings.
Infrared thermography is such a valuable and versatile tool that we cannot possibly list all the applications. New and innovative ways of using the technology are being developed everyday.
Thermography can be applied in any situation where a problem or condition can display itself by a thermal difference. For many situations, this is quite easy to apply; a thermal condition can be seen because the process involves release of thermal energy. Here are several examples of applications.
Electrical Thermography is the most widely performed application of infrared thermography. It is used virtually around the world to evaluate the condition of electrical systems and equipment. When an electrical system is energized, current passes through the entire system, a byproduct of this current flow is heat. We can see that heat with an infrared camera. When there is a defect in the system, more heat is generated because of high resistance, and the camera will see the difference between the normal components and the one with a problem.
Thermal image showing a failing connection on an electrical component.
Veterinarians and doctors are using infrared imaging to analyze surface thermal patterns that are symptomatic of an underlying ailment or condition. Nowhere is the value of clinical IRT for animals more evident than when it’s applied to the care of horses. Many minor injuries to muscle tissue may go unnoticed until the problem is more severe. However, infrared imagers used today can pick up the smallest change in temperature as a result of increased blood flow to damaged tissues. In this way IR imaging aids the expert trainer in caring for the horse.
Race horse sustained an injury in a fall. The infrared image shows where the problem is, and monitored the process of the healing.
Manufacturers concerned with non-destructively testing product quality and performance, are also among those employing, infrared radiometric technologies. An automobile manufacturer might use IRT to measure the real-time thermal dynamics of a prototype engine block or a plastics manufacturer might be interested in monitoring its extrusion process. Many industrial processes implicate the use of IRT where temperature and heat flow are a useful indicators of how a process is operating.
Infrared Inspection for tank leaks and to verify tank level.
Another example is the inspection of concrete bridges. Over the years, a concrete bridge deck can develop subsurface delaminations, which can lead to holes in the deck. When a hole develops, it is already a big problem. What is important is to find the problem before the hole appears. Using the energy from the sun as an active heating source, we look at it with the infrared camera. The region with the subsurface delamination will have a different level of heat than the solid parts of the concrete deck structure. The infrared camera will show the differences.
This example shows that even though the bridge deck doesn’t generate heat it can still be analyzed with thermography.
Composite aircraft materials are extremely sturdy and lightweight. These materials are vital to aircraft performance and airworthiness. However, the honeycomb structure of this material presents a potentially dangerous problem: water ingress.