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Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 49, Issue 6, pp 1187–1218

First Online: 03 August 2010Received: 30 July 2009Revised: 13 January 2010Accepted: 11 June 2010


This paper deals with the evolution of infrared IR thermography into a powerful optical tool that can be used in complex fluid flows to either evaluate wall convective heat fluxes or investigate the surface flow field behavior. Measurement of convective heat fluxes must be performed by means of a thermal sensor, where temperatures have to be measured with proper transducers. By correctly choosing the thermal sensor, IR thermography can be successfully exploited to resolve convective heat flux distributions with both steady and transient techniques. When comparing it to standard transducers, the IR camera appears very valuable because it is non-intrusive, it has a high sensitivity down to 20 mK, it has a low response time down to 20 μs, it is fully two dimensional from 80 k up to 1 M pixels, at 50 Hz and, therefore, it allows for better evaluation of errors due to tangential conduction within the sensor. This paper analyses the capability of IR thermography to perform convective heat transfer measurements and surface visualizations in complex fluid flows. In particular, it includes the following: the necessary radiation theory background, a review of the main IR camera features, a description of the pertinent heat flux sensors, an analysis of the IR image processing methods and a report on some applications to complex fluid flows, ranging from natural convection to hypersonic regime.

This review article was a solicited contribution for the issue of Experiments in Fluids dedicated to the contributions of Prof. Donald Rockwell Vol. 49, 1.

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Autor: Giovanni Maria Carlomagno - Gennaro Cardone


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