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Temperature and thermometers

Temperature is single most frequently stated type of loop of interest to users, and the concern for better control
extends to the widest variety of industries.

Temperature is a critical condition for reaction, fermentation, combustion, drying, calcinations, crystallization,
extrusion, or degradation rate, and it is an inference of a column tray concentration in the process industries. Tight
temperature control translates to lower defects and greater yields during seeding, crystal pulling, and rapid thermal
processing of silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry.

For boilers, temperature is important for water and air preheat, fuel oil viscosity, and steam superheat control.

Temperature control in cold rooms reduces the contamination and degradation rate in pharmaceutical, biochemical,
beverage, and food research and production. Temperature control in plant growth chambers is important for
studying the effects of hybridization, genetic engineering, and plant growth regulators.

We classify thermometers as mechanical temperature-sensing devices because they produce some type of
mechanical action or movement in response to temperature changes. Different types include the familiar liquid-in-
glass thermometers; liquid-, gas-, and vapor-filled systems; and bimetallic thermometers.

There are three basic types of liquid-in-glass thermometers: partial immersion, total immersion, and complete
immersion. A partial immersion thermometer inserts to a fixed point indicated by the immersion ring. This is the
least accurate because the temperature of the stem and any capillary liquid above the immersion ring may differ
significantly from the temperature of the immersed portion. A total immersion thermometer immerses to the height
of the fluid column, not the entire length of the thermometer. So, it does not usually have an immersion ring
marking. A complete or full immersion thermometer totally submerges in fluid.

Filled thermometers
Filled thermometers contain a gas or a volatile liquid and rely on pressure measurements to provide temperature
indications. Although each type of system is slightly different, they have similar components and share the same
principle of operation. In a filled thermometer, a bulb, capillary tube, and Bourdon tube fill with a liquid, vapor, or
gas. When temperature changes, fluid either expands or contracts, which causes the Bourdon tube to move, thereby
moving the position of the needle on the scale.

Liquid fill
A liquid-filled system completely fills with liquid. This type of system operates on the principle that liquid
expands with an increase in temperature. When the liquid expands, it causes the pressure to increase, which causes
the Bourdon tube to uncoil and move the needle on the scale. Typically, inert hydrocarbons such as xylene see
more use because of their low coefficient of expansion. In some cases, you can even use water. Another common
liquid is mercury. Mercury-filled systems are often in a separate class from liquid-filled system because they
respond to temperature changes and have a higher degree of accuracy than other liquids.

A vapor system contains a volatile liquid and vapor and operates on the principle that pressure in a vessel
containing only a liquid and its vapor increases with temperature and is independent of volume. With a vapor
system, you measure temperature at the interface between the liquid and the vapor. For a vapor system to operate
properly, the interface must remain in the bulb.

Four subclasses of vapor systems exist. Class IIA operates with the measured temperature above the temperature
of the rest of the system. The Class IIB vapor system operates with the measured temperature below the
temperature of the rest of the system. The Class IIC vapor system measures temperatures above and below the
temperature of the system. Because of a cross-ambient effect, vapor system thermometers often see use either
exclusively below ambient or exclusively above ambient.
The Class IID vapor system can overcome the cross-ambient limitation by using a second nonvolatile liquid.

Gas filled
Gas-filled systems see use in industrial applications and, in some cases, in laboratory measurements. The operation
of gas-filled systems is based on the ideal gas law, and their measurement is thus an approximation at normally
encountered temperatures and pressures. According to this law, the pressure of an ideal gas confined to a constant
volume is proportional to absolute temperature. In a typical gas-filled system, the gas (usually nitrogen) is not
perfect, so there may be a slight change in volume. However, these difference are minor and do not prevent the use
of pressure measurement to indicate temperature.

Bimetallic thermometers
Bimetallic thermometers use the differences in the thermal expansion properties of metals to provide temperature
measurement capability. Strips of metals with different thermal expansion coefficients bond together but at the
same temperature. When the temperature increases, the assembly bends. When this happens, the metal strip with
the larger temperature coefficient of expansion expands more than the other strip. The angular position-versus-
temperature relation is established by calibration so you can use the device as a thermometer.