Infrared Thermography Laboratory


The Infrared Thermography Laboratory (IRLab) conducts detailed laboratory experiments on the thermal performance of windows and other insulated systems.  During a typical experiment, a specimen is placed between two environmental chambers that simulate a long, cold night during winter.   Besides generating informative thermal images, the experiments collect several types of quantitative data with high spatial resolution that are useful for understanding subtle details in the thermal performance and for validating computer simulations of heat and fluid flows.  Thermography experiments in the IRLab use an infrared imager  to produce qualitative thermal images, or thermograms, that help provide a visual interpretation of how heat is flowing through the specimen.   The infrared thermograms are also taken and postprocessed to extract numerical data to perform quantitative thermography that produces a database of the distribution of surface temperatures on the warm side of various specimen.  A traversing system is also used to measure the distribution of air temperatures and velocities near the specimen.  Research results are presented at various technical conferences -- see our schedule of upcoming conferences.  Technical papers on infrared thermography are available for downloading.  The IRLab contains a machine tool shop area that supports fabrication efforts in the Building Technologies Department. Other types of research, such as Non-Destructive Evaluation, are also conducted in the IRLab.


chambers.jpg (20710 bytes) IRLab Researchers preparing  an experiment on window thermal performance

The purpose of the Infrared Thermography Laboratory is to improve the energy efficiency of buildings by aiding in the development of windows with high thermal performance and by improving the analysis of complex heat flow situations. Current areas of interests include: (1) improving the edges and frames of windows, (2) validating computer programs that simulate window performance, and (3) analyzing localized surface heat transfer coefficients. Even for today's highest performance windows, the edge areas of windows need improvement because edge heat losses can reduce overall performance by up to a factor of two. These edge areas also may have problems with water condensing on the surface facing the indoors. The experimental data for surface temperature obtained with infrared thermography are well suited for validating finite-element computer models that model heat flow. Developing accurate computer programs is a key part of national efforts to rate and label window performance so that consumers can compare the performance of products from different manufacturers.

For more information on Infrared Thermography Laboratory research and facilities contact:

Howdy Goudey
Building Technologies Program
510-486-6046 (fax)