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Flir Systems has provided students in the Netherlands’ Solar Team Twente with a T-Series thermal-imaging camera to aid in the further development and testing of its solar-powered Red Engine vehicle, which is set to participate in the World Solar Challenge in 2013.

The camera has primarily been used to confirm all systems are working according to calculations and that they conform to the regulations specified by the organisers.

The T-Series camera was also used to test electronic systems to establish which should be replaced or modified, as well as ensuring the vehicle’s photovoltaic cells are operating at the utmost efficiency. In addition, it was used to identify components that require cooling.

Flir said thermal imaging offers distinct advantages over other technologies for solar panel evaluation. As it can be used to scan panels while they are in operation any anomalies can be seen instantly. A complete panel can also be seen in one pass of the camera.

The Flir T-Series thermal-imaging camera is particularly suitable for dynamic testing in the field. Standard features include rotating optical block, touchscreen interface and 320 x 240-pixel resolution. It can distinguish temperature changes as subtle as 0.04°C and provide precise temperature measurement from -20°C to 1,500°C.

Benefits of application

  • Chiel De Wit, head of Solar Team Twente, said: ‘Driving at an average speed of 50km/hr, the car must first pass a breaking test. It needs to come to a complete standstill within a certain distance for safety reasons. With the Flir camera we were able to measure the increasing heat of the brake discs at different speeds to confirm they met specification. The engine was also tested for the same reason and the thermal-imaging camera gave us a lot more information than the on-board sensors.’

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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