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The department of chemical engineering at Imperial College London has chosen to use a Flir Systems X6540sc thermal-imaging camera to conduct heat transfer experiments on thin-film flows. Studying heat transfer in thin-film flows is the key to enabling the accurate prediction of complex hydrodynamic processes, crucial for the design of many engineering systems that rely on these flows.

Research within the clean energy processes group at the chemical engineering department is aimed at the development and employment of new imaging techniques for conducting simultaneous spatiotemporal measurements of thickness, velocity, temperature and heat flux in thin-film flows.

Thin-film flows are employed in a wide variety of engineering/technological applications, such as evaporators, exchangers, absorbers, micro-reactors, thermal management/human support systems in space applications, small-scale electronics-microprocessor cooling schemes, air conditioning and gas turbine blade cooling.

Before purchasing the Flir camera, the department had to rely on camera loans from the EPSRC Engineering Equipment Pool, which were dependent on availability. During the evaluation process to select a thermal-imaging camera, the department looked into 12 different camera options from Flir and other companies.

The X6540sc provides ultra-fast frame-rate acquisition for scientific and research applications involving dynamic thermal events.

Key benefits of product application

  • Dr Alexandros Charogiannis, a postdoctoral research associate, said: ‘Being able to conduct high-resolution (640 x 512 pixel) IR thermography measurements at high frame rates (100Hz) using the FLIR X6540sc camera will allow us to gain an unprecedented insight into the flow dynamics of a great range of flow regimes of gravity-driven thin film flows, gas-/shear-driven horizontal film flows and Marangoni flows.’ 
  • He added: ‘The excellent results from the demonstration of the X6540sc on our own thin-film set-up coupled with Flir’s strong applications support convinced us that this camera  was the optimum component to supplement our experimental set-up.’
  • The camera connects to the company’s ResearchIR Max R&D software for thermal-imaging data acquisition, analysis and reporting

Key product features of the X6540sc

  • Provides ultra-fast frame-rate acquisition for scientific and research applications involving dynamic thermal events
  • Features a 640 × 512 digital InSb detector with spectral sensitivity from 1.5 to 5.5µm and a f/3 aperture
  • Provides images up to 125Hz in full frame and up to 4011Hz in a 64 × 8 subwindowing mode
  • Can be temperature-calibrated up to 300°C or up to 3,000°C with spectral and/or neutral density filters
  • Gives measurement accuracy of ±1°C for standard configurations
  • Other features include high thermal sensitivity, snapshot imagery, a motorised spectral filter wheel and a detachable touchscreen LCD

FLIR Systems specialises in technologies that enhance perception and awareness.  The company brings innovative sensing solutions into daily life through its thermal imaging and visible light imaging technology and systems for measurement, diagnosis, location and advanced threat detection.  Its products improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance productivity, increase energy efficiency and make the workplace safer.

FLIR Systems has six operating segments – surveillance, instruments, OEM and emerging markets, maritime, security and finally, detection. Of these six, ‘instruments’ is of greatest interest to trade and industry and the second largest segment in the company’s portfolio. This division provides devices that image, measure and assess thermal energy, gases and other environmental elements for industrial, commercial and scientific applications.

These products are manufactured across five production sites, three in the USA and two in Europe; Sweden and Estonia.

A model to suit every application and budget
The options that FLIR Systems provides for measuring temperature and studying thermal performance have never been greater.  Not only does the company offer a huge range of models to suit all thermal application needs but the technology is also affordable and very easy to use.  Thermal cameras now come in various shapes, sizes and degrees of sophistication and FLIR continues to invest heavily in the development of new and complementary technologies to differentiate itself from competitors.

An important milestone in the development of thermal imaging has been the introduction of the FLIR Lepton® core, a micro longwave detector, the size of a mobile SIM.  This has allowed thermal imaging to be repackaged to meet the needs of an even wider audience and, in combination with another new technology called Infrared Guided Measurement – IGM™ – has led to the development of a range of test and measurement meters with imaging capability.

Another important growth area for FLIR thermal imaging is in continuous monitoring to assure quality and safety.  Through its introduction of discrete fixed mounted thermal cameras which are fully compliant industry standard plug-and-play protocols, FLIR Systems has provided industry with infrared machine vision which is instantly ready for quick and easy network installation.

Protecting assets and people from fire is an area for which thermal imaging is least known but, thanks to FLIR Systems’ development, it is now one of the most cost-effective methods available.  Its application flexibility and rapid return on investment present an attractive proposition for any site or safety manager.

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