Developing traceable capabilities in thermal metrology

Short Name: Eura-Thermal, Project Number: 14RPT05
Industrial temperature meter

Raising industrial competitiveness and opportunities for trade in emergent nations

Thermal metrology is critical for optimising the efficiency and for mitigating the environmental impacts of a high proportion of industrial processes. Indeed, more than half of Europe’s manufacturing processes rely on accurate measurements of temperature or material thermal properties. For example, in energy-from-waste plants, measurement of furnace temperatures is necessary for minimising releases of harmful emissions.


Maintaining measurement accuracy requires industrial thermal sensors to be calibrated through an unbroken chain, from application to calibrations to primary standards by National Metrology Institutes or Designated Institutes (NMIs/DIs). However, shortfalls had been identified in some parts of Europe in the provision of calibration services. Inadequate local metrology infrastructures for contact thermometry, radiation thermometry and thermal properties of materials risked cementing existing divergences in production quality, so limited opportunities for developing international trade.


The project strengthened the capabilities of the National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) and Designated Institutes (DIs) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland and the Republic of Serbia, through the collaborative support of NMIs based in more economically developed European nations.


Capabilities in high-temperature measurement using contact thermometry in the range of 960 C to 1084 C was improved at FSB-LPM (Croatia), IMBiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina), BFKH (Hungary) and DMDM (Serbia). For example, TUBITAK supported DMDM, FSB, and IMBiH by passing on its expertise in building fixed-point cells, enabling participating NMIs to perform high-temperature calibrations. Improved accuracy and procedures were implemented and demonstrated in an inter-laboratory comparison of high-temperature platinum resistance thermometers and reference thermocouples.


Secondly, partners collaborated to establish radiation thermometry research capabilities in the range of -20 C to 2000 C, at FSB-LPM (Croatia), BFKH (Hungary), DMDM (Serbia), and NSAI NML (Ireland). Uncertainty budgets were established and calibration procedures improved by assistance from LNE-LCM/CNAM (France), MIRS/UL-FE/LMK (Slovenia) and CMI (Czech Republic). Comparisons of radiation thermometer calibrations showed good agreement among participants; that, combined with expert technical input, prompted actions that improved capabilities, leading to increased local availability of accurate measurement services.


Thirdly, capabilities for thermal conductivity measurements from room temperature to 800 C by guarded hot plate (GHP) instruments were implemented at CMI (Czech Republic), BFKH (Hungary) and Institut Za Nuklearne Nauke Vinca (Serbia). GHP instruments are used to measure the thermal conductivity of insulation products, and these NMIs/DIs can apply to participate in inter-laboratory comparison in such measurement fields.


Individual strategies were developed to support the long-term development of capabilities for providing services in contact thermometry, non-contact thermometry and thermo-physical property characterisation for all emerging NMI and DIs (FSB, IMBiH, BFKH, DMDM, Republic of Serbia, NSAI and VINCA).


Effective knowledge transfer accelerated the development of traceable calibration facilities and procedures at Europe’s emerging NMIs and DIs. As a result of the project, access to high-level facilities in the field of thermal metrology for local industries has increased, providing opportunities for increased industrial competitiveness, improved environmental standards and easier access to international markets.