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Monitoring Solar Tower Power Plants Automatically Under Extreme Climatic Conditions

In the Atacama Desert, one of the world‘s largest solar tower power plants is being built. In the future, Solar Power Tower Check (SPTC), the new thermographybased system for the solar tower power plant monitoring from InfraTec, will monitor the optimum heat distribution of the power plants absorber using a total of eight infrared cameras.

The temperature is measured fully automatically without any interaction of an operator. SPTC warns independently if a defined threshold is exceeded and transfers the signals to the control system. This prevents failures due to overheating and saves potential maintenance costs. The extreme local environmental conditions require equipment with highly reliable components. A 19" main cabinet protects the robust industrial technology from wind, dust and almost continuous solar radiation during the day. Weatherproof protective housings safely shield the cameras.

A specially designed telephoto lens enables the full format image reproduction of the absorber surfaces from very long measurement distances and protects the camera detector against damage caused by direct solar radiation. Typical for InfraTec, SPTC offers users a high degree of flexibility.

The thermal imaging cameras with the (2,048 × 1,536) IR pixels HD format, the industrial PCs as well as the alarm units can be installed decentralised. Fibre optic cables ensure transmission of the data with full resistance to electro-magnetic disturbances. Customers can adapt the system to their individual needs using the SPTC software and integrate it easily into the system environment of the respective solar tower power plants.

Solar tower power plant – Monitoring the optimum heat distribution using infrared cameras from InfraTec - Picture Credits: © istock.com / paulrommer

High-Resolution High-Speed Thermography on Nickel-Titanium Wires in Tension Test

Refrigerants often contain climate-damaging fluorocarbons nowadays. Scientists at the Centre for Mechatronics and Automation Technology at Saarland University are searching foralternatives and are researching, for example, ferroelastic cooling.

This form of cooling focuses on wires of a pseudo-elastic shape memory alloy based on nickel/titanium (NiTi). A mechanical load on the NiTi wires causes large, reversible deformations due to a stress-induced martensitic transformation. Stretching and relaxing of the wire are related to the discharge and supply of thermal energy. The researchers want to control parameters independently, such as frequency or phase shift between the mechanical stress and heat transfer. In addition, they want to measure the resulting cooling performance for a specific material and a specific device geometry.

An imaging measuring platform is used, which works with an ImageIR® 9300. The high-end thermal imaging camera is equipped with a 1× microscope lens and detects the wire to be measured, whose diameter is only approx. 150 µm. Exact thermographic temperature measurement even on longer wire sections is ensured through the geometric resolution of 15 µm. Thanks to the camera‘s (1,280 × 1,024) IR pixel detector, it is possible to monitor long parts of the tiny wire and to record structural changes. The high temporal resolution of the ImageIR® 9300 up to 106 Hz in full-image format also lets them follow even brief temperature changes.

Kindly supported by Saarland University; abbreviated text version

Heating and cooling of a NiTi wire due to stretching and relaxing