Pyroelectric Ceramics as Temperature Sensors for Energy System Applications

Jorge Luis Silva, University of Texas at El Paso


Temperature is continuously monitored in energy systems to ensure safe operation temperatures, increase efficiency and avoid high emissions. Most of energy systems operate at high temperature and harsh environments to achieve higher efficiencies, therefore temperature sensing devices that can operate under these conditions are highly desired. The interest has increased in temperature sensors capable to operate and in harsh environments and temperature sensors capable to transmit thermal information wirelessly. One of the solutions for developing harsh environment sensors is to use ceramic materials, especially functional ceramics such as pyroelectrics. Pyroelectric ceramics could be used to develop active sensors for both temperature and pressure due to their capabilities in coupling energy among mechanical, thermal, and electrical domains. In this study, two different pyroelectric materials were used to develop two different temperature sensors systems. First, a high temperature sensor was developed using a lithium niobate (LiNbO3) pyroelectric ceramic. With its Curie temperature of 1210 °C, lithium niobate is capable to maintain its pyroelectric properties at high temperature making it ideal for temperature sensing at high temperature applications. Lithium niobate has been studied previously in the attempt to use its pyroelectric current as the sensing mechanism to measure temperatures up to 500 °C. Pyroelectric coefficient of lithium niobate is a function of temperature as reported in a previous study, therefore a dynamic technique is utilized to measure the pyroelectric coefficient of the lithium niobate used in this study. The pyroelectric coefficient was successfully measured up to 500 °C with coefficients ranging from -8.5 x 10 -5 C/m2 °C at room temperature to -23.70 x 10 -5 C/m2 °C at 500 °C. The lithium niobate sensor was then tested at higher temperatures: 220 °C, 280 °C, 410 °C and 500 °C with 4.31 %, 2.1 %, 0.4 % and 0.6 % deviation respectively when compared with thermocouple measurements. The second phase of this study focused on developing a wireless temperature sensor with lead zirconate titanate (PZT) as the pyroelectric material. This wireless temperature sensor consists of generating current by the PZT when exposed to a rate of temperature change with time, which was conducted to a built electromagnet to produce a magnetic field. The magnetic field was captured wirelessly with a milligaussmeter at a certain distance. Pyroelectric property of PZT (-40x10-5 C/m2 °C at 25 °C) is higher than that of the lithium niobate (-8.5x10-5 C/m2 °C at 25 °C), which was necessary to be able to generate the necessary pyroelectric current to make magnetic field detectable by the milligaussmeter. The electromagnet body was 3D printed with ABS material and surrounded with winding wire material. Before attempting a wireless temperature measurement, several attempts to measure the magnetic field at different distances away from the electromagnet were done. At the applied heating rates, the milligaussmeter was able to measure magnetic field up to 1.27 cm away from the electromagnet edge. A PZT sensor with a thickness of 0.1 cm was tested for use in the wireless temperature measurement configuration. For more accurate wireless temperature measurements, a similar pyroelectric coefficient measurement technique as used in phase one was done. The pyroelectric coefficient was found to increase from -40x10 -5 C/m2 °C to -71.84x10-5 C/m 2 °C from 25 °C to 122 °C, respectively. The PZT sensor was then tested for wireless temperature measurement at a distance of 1.27 cm at set temperatures of 100 °C, 150 °C, and 200 °C, and showed a maximum 10.47 % deviation when compared to thermocouple reading. In order to increase the distance that the wireless temperature sensor can read, a ferromagnetic material was placed inside the electromagnet. The sensor was tested for wireless temperature measurement at 1.27 cm, 2.54 cm and 3.81 cm with a maximum deviation of 13.4 %.

Subject Area

Engineering|Mechanical engineering|Energy

Recommended Citation

Silva, Jorge Luis, "Pyroelectric Ceramics as Temperature Sensors for Energy System Applications" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10284080.