Role played by infrared thermography Essay

Purposes and Aims

The purpose of my thesis undertaking is to look into the function played by infrared thermography in measuring the many defects within a edifice envelope. Consequently, this semester I have completed background research on infrared thermography and the countries associated with it ( i.e. infrared camera, edifice defects that can be identified, electrical defects etc ) . From this research, I have produced a elaborate literature reappraisal and have condensed it for the intents of this study.

The literature reappraisal has provided me with basic cognition and apprehension of how infrared thermography plants, hence, following semester I will be able to set about experimental work with assurance. Shortly, I plan to take accurate thermograms of a series of edifices with an infrared camera. After construing the information within the thermic images right, I will place and turn up any defects within the edifice ‘s envelope. Then, a list of fixs will be produced for each edifice. Subsequently, the different edifices analysed will be compared and decisions drawn. Besides, for one of the edifices I plan to finish an air tightness trial every bit good as an infrared thermography study to cipher the air stringency of the construction and find the location of any air escape tracts.

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Literature Review


Infrared thermography is an priceless non destructive technique which uses high public presentation infrared cameras to observe and mensurate the sum of infrared radiation emitted by an object based on its temperature, this information is so presented in the signifier of a thermic image ( known as thermogram ) .

All objects with a temperature above -273 & A ; deg ; C emit infrared radiation, except objects that absorb all radiation ( known as a black body ) [ 1 ] . The sum of infrared radiation emitted by an object varies with its temperature, for illustration, as the temperature of an object additions so does the sum of infrared radiation emitted [ 5 ] . For this ground, thermograms show thermic anomalousnesss of objects by separating warmer countries from colder countries, this provides a usage for infrared thermography in assorted industries throughout the universe.

Infrared radiation is in the unseeable portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, hence, Figure 1.1 [ 9 ] illustrates where the infrared part is in comparing to the remainder of the electromagnetic spectrum.


Recent promotions in engineering have enabled modern infrared cameras to go more practical and easier to run for the user. This is because they are built much smaller and lighter ( more portable ) compared to old older infrared camera systems. Figure 2.1 shows a typical illustration of a recent infrared camera.

In add-on, modern infrared cameras are now much more cost effectual and low-cost compared to older theoretical accounts and hence, infrared thermography has increased in popularity as a diagnostic tool. One of the grounds that older infrared cameras were so expensive was the sensor within the infrared camera was required to be cryogenically cooled by utilizing liquid N [ 2 ] . Figure 2.2 [ 2 ] shows a cryogenically cooled camera from the early 1990 ‘s which cost around $ 60,000.

Typical monetary values of infrared cameras on the market today vary from around & A ; lb ; 4000 to & A ; lb ; 40,000 [ 2 ] depending on the truth and quality of the camera. Besides, it must be remembered that a budget must be set aside for general care and fixs of the device [ 2 ] .

Key characteristics of infrared cameras that affect the thermogram ‘s quality and truth include the thermic sensitiveness, spacial declaration and whether the camera is radiometric. The better these characteristics are, the more precise and expensive the infrared camera will be.

The thermic sensitiveness represents the smallest temperature difference that can be found at a given temperature. For illustration, modern infrared cameras can decide temperature differences of about 0.1 & A ; deg ; C ( 100mK ) at 30 & A ; deg ; C [ 2 ] . Besides, the spacial declaration of an infrared camera refers to the figure of pels ( per unit country ) of the thermic images it produces [ 2 ] . In add-on, radiometric infrared cameras are cameras that have been calibrated so that temperature can be deduced from the sum of infrared radiation detected [ 2 ] .

Several factors can impact the information collected within thermograms which will take to an wrong reading of the consequences. To forestall this, an in deepness apprehension and experience of infrared thermography is needed. Subsequently, the right decisions can be drawn from the thermic images and hence, relevant effects of parametric quantities can be avoided and ignored. The parametric quantities that affect infrared thermography include, the distance that the thermogram is taken off from the mark object, atmospheric fading, the angle of vision, shadows dramatis personae onto the edifice, solar radiation, ambient air temperature, weather conditions such as air current and rain and besides the emissivity and coefficient of reflection of assorted stuffs [ 1 ] and [ 10 ] .

Emissivity refers to how expeditiously the surface of a material emits infrared radiation in comparing with a surface at the same temperature that is an ideal black body ( perfect emitter ) [ 1 ] . The values of emissivity scope between nothing ( perfect reflector ) and one ( perfect emitter ) and are affected by fluctuations of temperature, wavelength and surface status [ 6 ] . In general, stuffs that have high emissivity values are non-metallic such as brick, pigment and rock etc [ 6 ] .

Alternatively, stuffs that have low emissivity values of less than 0.5 are normally clean, polished glistening metals like aluminum and steel. Due to their negatron construction these stuffs are unable to breathe infrared radiation adequately and so the information within the thermic image will be inaccurate and hard to see [ 1 ] . Furthermore, it would non be possible to find the right temperature of the stuff. A manner of work outing this job associated with low emissivity stuffs is to attach a little sized high emissivity stuff ( normally black H2O based pigment, emissivity value of about 0.9 ) to the low emissivity stuff being investigated [ 1 ] .

3.Applications of infrared thermography within the building industry

There are two different techniques for finishing infrared thermography successfully, these are known as inactive thermography and active thermography. Passive thermography is merely a method that identifies thermic anomalousnesss of stuffs and constructions that of course have different temperatures than the ambient air temperature [ 4 ] . On the other manus, active thermography represents the procedure of utilizing an external stimulation to make suited temperature differences between the stuffs being tested and the milieus [ 4 ] . Both of these methods are applied within the building industry, nevertheless, inactive thermography is by and large used, as good temperature differences normally exist.

Within the last 25 old ages, [ 6 ] the development of infrared thermography within the building industry has enabled it to go a utile diagnostic tool, as the procedure is highly speedy, with virtually no break or noise to the residents of the edifice [ 4 ] . Besides, it is a non destructive procedure as no contact with the mark object is required and the technique is wholly safe, as no harmful substances or radiation is involved [ 5 ] .

Consequently, infrared thermography within the building industry can be used efficaciously to place legion types of subsurface defects around the edifice envelope. These defects are found by utilizing the thermograms produced by infrared cameras to place thermic anomalousnesss on the surface of the mark object. These thermic images are so interpreted accurately to separate whether the thermic anomalousness is in fact a edifice defect that needs mending or replacing [ 1 ] . Possible thermic anomalousnesss will look on the thermogram as temperature differences of 1 or 2 C, whilst temperatures differences of 4 C and higher represent really strong grounds of a defect bing [ 3 ] .

Thermograms ( thermic images ) are normally taken during dry darks and sooner during the winter months, as there is a greater temperature difference between the construction and ambient air temperature, this increases the opportunities of placing defects. Additionally, it must be considered that some defects may non be identified as they are excessively little. The general regulation provinces that in order for a defect to be identified by an infrared camera, the radius of the defect must be at least one or two times larger than the deepness it is from the surface [ 3 ] .

Typically, infrared thermography is applied within the building industry by specializer companies. When a specializer thermographic company completes an infrared study of the edifice, extra information may be required such as building drawings, wet metres etc so the consequences of the thermic images can be interpreted right. Normally a specializer company will bring forth an energy appraisal of the edifice which means the energy efficiency of the construction is found by ciphering ( utilizing package ) the sum of unneeded heat loss, cost ( in regard to the public-service corporation measures ) and C emanations lost through each defect [ 13 ] . Once defects have been repaired another infrared thermography study is used to measure the quality of craft and look into that the defect has been wholly fixed [ 1 ] .

Relevant edifice defects that are identified by infrared thermography include ill fitted or damaged facing panels, losing and damaged insularity, trapped wet within the edifice envelope ( i.e. level roofing ) , thermic bridging ( stuffs that are hapless dielectrics that allow a direct way for heat to flux from the interior to out ) , delaminating render, concealed structural inside informations ( blocked up Windowss and doors ) , internal leaks ( burst pipes ) and air escape pathways [ 1 ] .

Air Leakage Detection

Uncontrolled airing through interruptions and clefts in the edifice cloth are said to lend to a major portion of the overall heat transportation of the edifice [ 8 ] . Consequently, infrared thermography is combined with air escape proving to better the air stringency of constructions to run into Part L of the edifice ordinances. The 2006 version of this statute law states that for all new homes every bit good as commercial and industrial edifices the air tightness criterion has to be equal to or better than 10 m?/ ( h.m? ) at 50 Pa [ 8 ] .

The air tightness trial normally consists of a blower door system which is a variable flow portable fan that is installed into a room access within the edifice ‘s construction [ 8 ] . All Windowss and doors are closed and other accepted air tracts such as hearths and blowholes are sealed so no air can come in the edifice. Besides, the air current velocity should be below 6 m/s and the force per unit area difference between the interior and outside of the construction less than ±5 Pa [ 8 ] . Once these environmental conditions have been checked, the fan is switched on, hence, the sum of air required to supercharge the edifice to 50 Pascals is found ( known as air permeableness ) . If the air permeableness value is found to be equal to or lower than 10m?/ ( h.m? ) , the edifice will go through the trial and a certification that states that the edifice has met the relevant edifice ordinances will be given to the proprietor of the edifice [ 8 ] .

However, if the construction has an air permeableness value above 10m?/ ( h.m? ) the edifice will neglect the air tightness trial. As a consequence, either a smoke trial or infrared thermography study is used to place air leakage waies so they can so be repaired [ 8 ] . An air stringency retest is so used to look into that edifice is at the needed air stringency.

Infrared thermography studies are preferred over fume trials for placing air leakage waies as it is a much more dependable and accurate technique. Normally an infrared thermography study is conducted before the air tightness trial so any air leakage waies can be identified and repaired before the air tightness trial commences. This normally enables the edifice to go through the air tightness trial first clip intending no retest is required which saves money and clip for the proprietor of the edifice [ 8 ] .

An infrared thermography study is able to place air leakage waies really good by utilizing the blower door equipment to depressurize the edifice [ 8 ] . This will do cold air to flux through any uncertain countries and air leakage waies into the edifice. Both internal and external thermograms should be taken of the edifice before and after the force per unit area changes as this helps to separate between air escape waies and thermic Bridgess [ 7 ] . From this the locations of any air leakage waies can be identified and repaired consequently. Examples of internal thermograms placing air leakage waies can be seen in Figure 3.1 and Figure 3.2.

Electrical Defects

A important usage of inactive infrared thermography is for prognostic and preventive care of electrical systems. As infrared thermography is a non contact technique, an electrical system does non hold to be switched off whilst the diagnostic method is being taken topographic point, hence, there is no dearly-won downtime. The benefit of placing electrical defects before they cause a job is it provides much better wellness and safety for the personal working around the equipment, as there is less opportunity of fires and electrical dazes [ 1, 13 ] .

Infrared thermography can be used to observe any electrical defects as the heat generated from them will look as ruddy and white countries on the thermograms. Once the defect has been identified, concentrated care can be completed rapidly, maintaining the downtime of the electrical system and fixs to a minimal [ 1 ] . An illustration of an electrical defect can be clearly seen in Figure 3.3.


Overall, infrared thermography is a peculiarly utile diagnostic tool that is applied within many different industries throughout the universe. Recent development of this technique has enabled it to go a much more feasible, cost effectual and practical within the building industry. Consequently, infrared thermography is progressively used expeditiously and efficaciously to place many edifice defects within constructions.


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  9. Shi, X. and Choudhuri, D. , 200- . Sing into the edifice envelope. Infrared Thermography Evaluates without Destruction. Moore Knowledge. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 10 November 2009 ]
  10. Chew, M.Y.L. , 1998. Measuring edifice frontages utilizing infra-red thermography. Structural Survey, 16 ( 2 ) , MCB University Press, pp. 81-86.
  11. Anon, 199? . Thermography. Reduces care costs and enhances dependability. NASA. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 10 November 2009 ]
  12. Kominsky, J.R. , Luckino, J.S. and Martin, T.F. , 200- . Passive Infrared Thermography – A Qualitative Method for Detecting Moisture Anomalies in Building Envelopes. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 10 November 2009 ]
  13. Lucier, R. , 2000? … . Infrared Applications in Building Diagnostics. Based on article that appeared in November 2000 edition of Cleaning & A ; Restoration magazine. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 11 November 2009 ]
  14. Stockton, G. R. and Tache, A. , 2006. Progresss in Applications for Aerial Infrared Thermography. Available at: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ Accessed 11 November 2009 ]
  • Mention for Figure 1: Shi, X. & A ; Choudhuri, D. , n.d. Sing into the edifice envelope. Moore Knowledge
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