Thermal imaging is a rapidly growing field of science that focuses on the applications of thermography to those industries in which heat transfer is involved. Thermography refers to the analysis of thermal conductivity in the air, as well as in the human body and food.
Thermal imaging is commonly used for water heating systems. These systems are designed to heat a container of water quickly and efficiently, thus preventing the evaporation of water from the container. Some of the systems also contain an element that allows the heat from the water to be transferred to the container; the heat is then transferred back to the water when the container is closed.
More sophisticated designs are also available, such as portable vessel water heaters that use thermal imaging to automatically regulate the temperature of the water being heated. The heater can be placed on any surface and automatically adjusts to maintain the proper temperature, whether the water is at room temperature or a full one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Because the heater can be placed in various locations, the homeowner doesn’t have to worry about constantly monitoring the temperature of the water coming out of the faucet, as the heater will automatically adjust to the optimal temperature.
Not only does the portable heater eliminate the need for constant monitoring, but the temperature is maintained until the water leaves the heater and is pushed out of the faucet. This process eliminates the hassles that normally come with maintaining indoor water temperature.
Some homeowners, however, prefer to keep the water at a consistent temperature, which requires the use of a thermostat. Thermostats are the devices that control the flow of electricity in the home; the way they operate is to turn the flow on or off, based on the temperature of the inside of the home.
If a thermostat is incorporated into the heating system, the owner has more control over the heating system, because he or she will know when the inside of the home has reached the temperature for comfort. Heating costs are reduced because the system is designed to last longer and work more efficiently.
To accommodate these types of thermostats, and to increase the efficiency of the system, new technologies are developing to develop systems that are energy efficient. These systems use the same principles of thermal imaging, but they use computers to generate thermostats, rather than thermometers. Computers analyze the thermal behaviour of the atmosphere and create the thermostats to control the flow of electricity to the heating system.
Thermal imaging also takes into account things like temperature gradients, which are related to air pressure. An air pocket that is present between two objects, or other objects of similar shape and size, will cause different temperatures for those objects. The more air that surrounds those objects, the higher the temperature will be.
Computer programs can take digital images of these air pockets, and the temperatures that occur within them. The patterns of these images form can be compared to the patterns formed by the actual heat transfer, and the differences between the two can be used to determine the actual temperature. That temperature can then be adjusted, by using the thermostat controls, to keep the interior of the home at the proper temperature.
By combining the information from the computer programs and the actual temperatures of the air pockets, thermal imaging can determine how fast the air moves and thus determine the speed of the current in the wires. When these wires are conducting electricity, the electricity flows faster than the speed of sound, which means the wires are far more susceptible to shorts. Using this method, the homeowner can reduce his or her electrical usage substantially.
But the most important aspect of thermal imaging is the ability to measure heat transfer. By developing a method to measure heat transfer and calculate how quickly the air molecules are moving, the future is looking bright for thermal imaging.
When completed in a small lab, these systems could be used to provide useful data for many businesses and homeowners, such as a testbed for basic science research projects, or as an affordable way to create personal safety for homeowners and occupants. As technology continues to advance, we could even see enhanced versions of thermal imaging systems.