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Infrared Thermography

About Infrared Thermography Thermography is the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera to "see" and "measure " thermal energy emitted from an object. Thermal, or infrared energy, is light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye; it's the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes, emit infrared. The higher the object's temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted. Infrared allows us to see what our eyes cannot. Infrared thermography cameras produce images of invisible infrared or "heat" radiation and provide precise non-contact temperature measurement capabilities. Nearly everything gets hot before it fails, making infrared cameras extremely cost-effective, valuable diagnostic tools in many diverse applications. And as industry strives to improve manufacturing efficiencies, manage energy, improve product quality, and enhance worker safety, new applications for infrared cameras continually emerge. A normal camcorder or digital camera can see from about 400nm to 750nm. The infrared range right above the visible range(750nm to 1200nm) is also called the Near Infrared (NIR). Because CCD sensitivity is reduced at the extremes, practical range is approximately 325nm to 1100nm. visible / NIR cameras have been used in many scientific, industrial, educational, professional photography and security fields. Viewing plant stress, searching for mineral deposits, analyzing museum pieces, forgery analysis, surveillance, factory automation and thousand of other applications are possible with cameras.  Thermal cameras see in the Mid IR (MIR) or Far IR (FIR) range. Although, technically, cameras in the 8-14 micron range are MIR cameras, many call them FIR cameras in order to distinguish them from the 4-6 micron cameras. Thermal cameras use a completely different type of technology from consumer digital cameras and camcorders. Thermal cameras use a Microbolometer Uncooled Focal Plane Array (MUFPA) image sensor while the consumer camera uses a Charged Coupled Device (CCD) or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) imaging device. History of infrared technology Sir William Herschel, an astronomer, discovered infrared in 1800. He built his own telescopes and was therefore very familiar with lenses and mirrors. Knowing that sunlight was made up of all the colours of the spectrum, and that it was also a source of heat, Herschel wanted to find out which colour(s) were responsible for heating objects. He devised an experiment using a prism, paperboard, and thermometers with blackened bulbs where he measured the temperatures of the different colours. Herschel observed an increase in temperature as he moved the thermometer from violet to red in the rainbow created by sunlight passing through the prism. He found that the hottest temperature was actually beyond red light. The radiation causing this heating was not visible; Herschel termed this invisible radiation "calorific rays." Today, we know it as infrared How Do Infrared Cameras Work  An infrared camera is a non-contact device that detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce a thermal image on a video monitor and perform temperature calculations. Heat sensed by an infrared camera can be very precisely quantified, or measured, allowing you to not only monitor thermal performance, but also identify and evaluate the relative severity of heat-related problems. Recent innovations, particularly detector technology, the incorporation of built-in visual imaging, automatic functionality, and infrared software development, deliver more cost-effective thermal analysis solutions than ever before. Application Thermal imaging systems have come down in cost over the past few years to the point where they are affordable to just about any company out there. In the old days IR Cam systems were expensive items that required cryogenic cooling, via liquid nitrogen, of the detector in order to operate. Thermal infrared imaging systems now are self contained and require minimal maintenance to operate efficiently for years. The availability of low cost infrared cameras that offer entry level performance and the availability of low cost high performance Demo / Pre-Owned infrared camera systems, which have created an environment where it is now OK to stretch your limits and try out new thermography applications. Most new applications for thermal imaging have been developed over the past year or so. One of the more recent Hot Topics for thermal imaging is the detection of humans with a fever in order to combat SARS around the globe. The infrared camera can scan large numbers of people traveling past a given point and alarm on individuals with elevated temperatures for further evaluation. Originally developed for military use during the Korean War, thermographic cameras have slowly migrated into other fields as varied as medicine and archeology. More recently, the lowering of prices have helped fuel the adoption of infrared viewing technology. Advanced optics and sophisticated software interfaces continue to enhance the versatility of IR cameras. Some of the more common and traditional thermography applications include: Process control Predictive maintenance & preventative maintenance in electrical power transmission equipment and predictive maintenance in machinery Non-destructive testing (NDT) of critical components and preventive maintenance of online systems. Energy audits of commercial and residential structures in order to determine the energy efficiency of the building (building diagnostics) Corona detection in power line insulators Roofing diagnostics that determine wet and damaged insulation or leaks in flat roof structures Heat loss evaluation of buildings and products Flow evaluation / monitor for steam lines, steam traps, water pipes and oil pipelines Equine preventative checkup for lameness prevention, hoof abcess and a variety of common horse ailments Human medicine including breast cancer detection and university / government studies Breast cancer detection Verification of soft tissue injury to prevent insurance fraud Acupuncture Surveillance / Stakeout force protection Riot control / Recon Suspect pursuit and capture Perimeter control of critical installations Wild fire recon and hot spot detection for mop up operations Poor visibility navigation on land and at sea Flammable liquid detection in drums and storage tanks. Tank level detection of various gasses and fluids. Victim location (dead or alive) Search and rescue Oil spill location and containment Vessel Identification for secure harbor monitoring Anti-terrorism efforts on open borders Homeland security Wildlife observation and control Wildfire hot spot detection Wilderness search and rescue Poaching control Geo-thermal event detection Hunting Driver safety at night Enhanced visibility in stormy conditions day or night Reduce the risk of hitting animals in the road Engine / system diagnostics and the list goes on.....

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