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thermocouple11

thermocouple11

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03/27/2014

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Z-21
We cannot build a temperature divider as we can avoltage divider, nor can we add temperatures as wewould add lengths to measure distance.We must relyupon temperatures established by physical phenomenawhich are easily observed and consistent in nature.TheInternational Practical Temperature Scale (IPTS) isbased on such phenomena.Revised in 1968, itestablishes eleven reference temperatures.Since we have only these fixed temperatures to useas a reference, we must use instruments to interpolatebetween them.But accurately interpolating betweenthese temperatures can require some fairly exotictransducers, many of which are too complicated orexpensive to use in a practical situation.We shall limitour discussion to the four most common temperaturetransducers:thermocouples, resistance-temperature
detector’s (RTD’s), thermistors, and integratedcircuit sensors.
IPTS-68 REFERENCE TEMPERATURES
EQUILIBRIUM POINTK
0
C
Triple Point of Hydrogen13.81-259.34Liquid/Vapor Phase of Hydrogen17.042-256.108at 25/76 Std.AtmosphereBoiling Point of Hydrogen20.28-252.87Boiling Point of Neon27.102 -246.048Triple Point of Oxygen54.361 -218.789Boiling Point of Oxygen90.188-182.962Triple Point of Water273.160.01Boiling Point of Water373.15100Freezing Point of Zinc692.73419.58Freezing Point of Silver1235.08961.93Freezing Point of Gold1337.581064.43
Table 1
THETHERMOCOUPLE
When two wires composed of dissimilar metals are joined at both ends and one of the ends is heated, thereis a continuous current which flows in the
thermoelectric 
circuit.Thomas Seebeck made thisdiscovery in 1821.If this circuit is broken at the center, the net opencircuit voltage (the Seebeck voltage) is a function of the junction temperature and the composition of the twometals.All dissimilar metals exhibit this effect.The mostcommon combinations of two metals are listed in
Appendix B
of this application note, along with theirimportant characteristics.For small changes intemperature the Seebeck voltage is linearly proportionalto temperature:
e
AB
=
α∆
T
Where
α
, the Seebeck coefficient, is the constant ofproportionality.
Measuring Thermocouple Voltage
- We can’tmeasure the Seebeck voltage directly because we mustfirst connect a voltmeter to the thermocouple, and thevoltmeter leads themselves create a newthermoelectric circuit.Let’s connect a voltmeter across a copper-constantan(Type T) thermocouple and look at the voltage output:We would like the voltmeter to read only V
1
, but byconnecting the voltmeter in an attempt to measure theoutput of Junction J
1
, we have created two moremetallic junctions:J
2
and J
3
.Since J
3
is acopper-to-copper junction, it creates no thermal EMF(V
3
= 0), but J
2
is a copper-to-constantan junction whichwill add an EMF (V
2
) in opposition to V
1
.The resultantvoltmeter reading V will be proportional to thetemperature difference between J
1
and J
2
.This saysthat we can’t find the temperature at J
1
unless we firstfind the temperature of J
2
.
Reference Temperatures
Metal AMetal Be
AB
+
 
J
1
V
2
++
V
1
+
J
2
J
1
+
vCuCuCuCJ
1
V
2
+
V
1
+
J
2
EQUIVALENT CIRCUITS
V
3
+
J
3
V
3
= 0CuCuCCuCuCCuJ
2
J
3
V
1
 
MEASURING JUNCTION VOLTAGE WITH A DVM
Figure 4
e
AB
= SEEBECK VOLTAGE
Figure 3
Metal AMetal CMetal B
THE SEEBECK EFFECT
Figure 2
Visit OMEGA® Online at http://www.omega.com
 
Visit OMEGA® Online at http://www.omega.com
 
Z-22
Z
One way to determine the temperature of J
2
is tophysically put the junction into an ice bath, forcing itstemperature to be 0˚C and establishing J
2
as the
Reference Junction 
. Since both voltmeter terminal junctions are now copper-copper, they create nothermal emf and the reading
on the voltmeter isproportional to the temperature difference between J
1
and J
2
.Now the voltmeter reading is (see Figure 5):V = (V
1
- V
2
)
α
(t
J1
- t
J2
)If we specify T
J1
in degrees Celsius:T
J1
(˚C) + 273.15 = t
J1
then V becomes:V = V
1
- V
2
=
α
[(T
J1
+ 273.15) - (T
J2
+ 273.15)]=
α
(T
J1
- T
J2
) =
α
(T
J1
- 0)V =
α
T
J1
We use this protracted derivation to emphasize thatthe ice bath junction output, V
2
, is
not 
zero volts. It is afunction of absolute temperature.By adding the voltage of the ice point reference junction, we have now referenced the reading V to 0˚C.This method is very accurate because the ice pointtemperature can be precisely controlled. The ice point isused by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) as thefundamental reference point for their thermocoupletables, so we can now look at the NBS tables anddirectly convert from voltage V to Temperature T
J1
.The copper-constantan thermocouple shown inFigure 5 is a unique example because the copper wireis the same metal as the voltmeter terminals. Let’s usean iron-constantan (Type J) thermocouple instead of thecopper-constantan. The iron wire (Figure 6) increasesthe number of dissimilar metal junctions in the circuit, asboth voltmeter terminals become Cu-Fe thermocouple junctions.EXTERNALREFERENCE JUNCTION
Figure 5
The Reference Junction
J
1
+
J
4
J
3
FeCvIce BathFeCuCuJ
2
V
1
 =
V
if
V
=
V
i.e., if
T
J3
=
T
J4
Voltmeter+vV
1
V
3
V
4
J
3
J
4
+
-
+
-
34
+
T
1
V
2
FevIce BathCuCuVoltmeterC
T
REF
FeJ
3
J
4
CuCuIsothermal BlockJ
1
V
2
+vT=0
°
C+V
1
+TJ
2
+J
1
V
1
V
2
+
 
+CuCvIce BathCuCuCuJ
2
Voltmeter
REMOVING JUNCTIONS FROM DVM TERMINALS
Figure 8
IRON-CONSTANTAN COUPLE
Figure 6
If both front panel terminals are not at the sametemperature, there will be an error. For a more precisemeasurement, the copper voltmeter leads should beextended so the copper-to-iron junctions are made onan
isothermal 
(same temperature) block:The isothermal block is an electrical insulator but agood heat conductor, and it serves to hold J
3
and J
4
atthe same temperature. The absolute block temperatureis unimportant because the two Cu-Fe junctions act inopposition. We still haveV =
α
(T
1
- T
REF
)JUNCTION VOLTAGE CANCELLATION
Figure 7
 
Z-23
Let’s replace the ice bath with another isothermalblockThe new block is at Reference Temperature T
REF
, andbecause J
3
and J
4
are still at the same temperature, wecan again show thatV =
α
(T
1
-T
REF
)This is still a rather inconvenient circuit because wehave to connect two thermocouples. Let’s eliminate theextra Fe wire in the negative (LO) lead by combiningthe Cu-Fe junction (J
4
) and the Fe-C junction (J
REF
).We can do this by first joining the two isothermalblocks (Figure 9b).We haven’t changed the output voltage V. It is stillV =
α
(T
J1
- T
JREF
)Now we call upon the law of intermediate metals (seeAppendix A) to eliminate the extra junction. Thisempirical “law” states that a third metal (in this case,iron) inserted between the two dissimilar metals of athermocouple junction will have no effect upon theoutput voltage as long as the two junctions formed bythe additional metal are at the same temperature:This is a useful conclusion, as it completely eliminatesthe need for the iron (Fe) wire in the LO lead:Again, V =
α
(T
J1
- T
REF
), where
α
is the Seebeckcoefficient for an Fe-C thermocouple.Junctions J
3
and J
4
, take the place of the ice bath.These two junctions now become the
Reference Junction.
Now we can proceed to the next logical step: Directlymeasure the temperature of the isothermal block (the
Reference Junction 
) and use that information tocompute the unknown temperature, T
J1
.Athermistor, whose resistance R
T
is a function oftemperature, provides us with a way to measure theabsolute temperature of the reference junction.Junctions J
3
and J
4
and the thermistor are all assumedto be at the same temperature, due to the design of theisothermal block. Using a digital multimeter undercomputer control, we simply:1)Measure R
T
to find T
REF
and convert T
REF
to its equivalent reference junctionvoltage, V
REF ,
then2)Measure V and add V
REF
to find V
1
,and convert V
1
to temperature T
J1
.This procedure is known as
Software Compensation 
because it relies upon the software of a computer tocompensate for the effect of the reference junction. Theisothermal terminal block temperature sensor can beany device which has a characteristic proportional toabsolute temperature: an RTD, a thermistor, or anintegrated circuit sensor.It seems logical to ask: If we already have a devicethat will measure absolute temperature (like an RTD orthermistor), why do we even bother with athermocouple that requires reference junction
Reference Circuit
J
3
J
4
CuCuJ
1
CT
 
REF
Fe
+
v
J
3
J
4
CuCuVoltmeterHILOIsothermal BlockJ
1
CT
 
REF
 
Isothermal Block
J
 
REF
FeFe
J
3
J
4
CuCuJ
1
CIsothermal Block @ T
REF
J
REF
FeFeHILO
+J
1
+
V
1
vVoltmeterCFeJ
3
R
T
CuCuBlock Temperature = T
REF
 J
4
Isothermal ConnectionT
REF
T
REF
Thus the low lead in Fig. 9b: Becomes:
Metal AMetal CMetal B
=
Metal CMetal ACuCFe
=
CCu
ELIMINATING THE ICE BATH
Figure 9a
JOINING THE ISOTHERMALBLOCKS
Figure 9b
LAW OF INTERMEDIATE METALS
Figure 10
EQUIVALENTCIRCUIT
Figure 11
EXTERNALREFERENCE JUNCTION-NO ICE BATH
Figure 12

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