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1 Albaha University Faculty of Engineering Mechanical Engineering Department Lecture 9: Pressure measurement Ossama Abouelatta Mechanical Engineering Department Faculty of Engineering Albaha University 2012 Aims This lecture aims: This lecture first reviews the state of sensor technology for manufacturing process monitoring in general. Methods of measuring pressure Electrical pressure measuring equipment Strain gauge and pressure transducers General information Principle of piezo-electric sensors Absolute and differential pressure sensors Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor.. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (2)

2 Outline Introduction Methods of measuring pressure Electrical pressure measuring equipment Strain gauge and pressure transducers General information Principle of piezo-electric sensors Absolute and differential pressure sensors Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (3) Introduction Types of pressure Alongside temperature, pressure is one of the most important physical quantities. It is defined as a force F that acts evenly over an area A: The unit of pressure, the Pascal (Pa), is derived from the unit of force, the newton (N) as follows: Another unit of pressure that has the same order of magnitude as atmospheric pressure is the bar and in instrumentation technology its sub-unit, the millibar (mbar), is often used: Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (4)

3 Introduction In some rare cases (e.g. the following experiment with the hand pump) an older unit mmhg (millimeters of mercury in a barometer) is used. This is related to millibars as follows: The various types of pressure are characterized by the reference points against which they are measured. The most accurate reference point is the pressure in a total vacuum. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (5) Introduction Absolute pressure (p abs ) Pressure measured above the zero pressure exerted by a vacuum. Atmospheric pressure (p B ) Subject to fluctuations due to the weather (the average pressure at sea level is mbar). For rough calculations it can be approximated to p B =1bar. Pressure above atmospheric (p o ) Absolute pressure higher than atmospheric pressure. Pressure below atmospheric (p u ) Absolute pressure less than atmospheric pressure. Differential pressure ( p) The difference between two pressures p 1 and p 2 (in cases where the value being measured is the difference between two pressures the term differential pressure is sometimes used). Hydrostatic pressure Pressure of liquids inside a closed container (acts evenly in all directions). Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (6)

4 Introduction Technical measurements most often involve a differential pressure using atmospheric pressure as a reference point. That is the difference between one absolute pressure being measured and the absolute pressure of the atmosphere. The following graphic clarifies the relationship. The two points of measurement are marked (1) and (2). Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (7) Methods of measuring pressure Pressure can be measured directly or indirectly. Direct pressure measuring instruments determine the pressure directly using a basic physical principle and orient their displays to show pressure according to that relationship. Indirect pressure measuring instruments employ the elastic bending of a spring or an electrically generated field in order to obtain a reading for pressure. One example of mechanical pressure measuring equipment should briefly be mentioned. This is a manometer that includes an elastic element (a spring) on which pressure is exerted. The deformation of this element serves as a measure of the pressure. Since such deformation is only slight, a pointer mechanism is used to magnify the effect, expressing it as circular motion around a dial. A pressure scale is marked on the dial and the pressure can thus be read off directly from there. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (8)

5 Electrical pressure measuring equipment All kinds of electrical pressure measurement convert the pressure into an electrical signal which is usually amplified and then displayed. All the measuring equipment from the point of pressure to the display unit may be called a chain of measurement. A chain of measurement from the acting pressure to the display generally involves three links: a pressure transducer, an amplifier and a display unit. The most common method of converting pressure into an electrical signal uses the deviation of a highly elastic membrane upon which a pressure acts. This deviation can be measured using either capacitive, inductive or resistive techniques. Electrical pressure measuring instruments are highly robust and have excellent dynamic response. Since even slight deformations of the pressure sensitive elements (e.g. 1 μm for piezo-elements) are sufficient to produce a usable signal, it is possible to make pressure measuring equipment extremely small. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (9) Electrical pressure measuring equipment In the capacitive method of measuring pressure the membrane practically acts as one side of a plate capacitor. Changes in the shape of the membrane causes the capacitance of this to alter. This may then be measured by a change in frequency that it engenders, for example. In the inductive method the deviation of the membrane due to pressure causes an iron core to be moved through a coil by a distance s such that the self-inductance of the coil is measurably altered. Essentially a differential transformer is used as the measuring element. This consists of a primary coil and two secondary arranged in a concentric pattern. Design of an inductive pressure transducer Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (10)

6 Electrical pressure measuring equipment If the soft iron core lies symmetrically between the two secondary coils, an equal voltage is induced in both. If the core moves towards one side (because a pressure p is exerted on the membrane) the coupling of the transformer is altered and different voltages U 21 und U 22 are induced in the coils. The two coils are then connected into a circuit with opposing polarity so that the resulting output voltage is proportional to the distance moved (displacement) and thus to the pressure. Probably the largest group of electrical pressure transducers use the resistive method, where the pressure exerted causes a change in resistance of the system. Most familiar are strain gauges consisting of metal wires or semiconductor material. The basic principle of the strain gauge is that the expansion of a wire results in a change in its resistance. The strain gauge is attached to a supporting base and glued to the membrane or hollow cylinder upon which the pressure is being exerted. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (11) Strain gauge and pressure transducers Normal strain gauge Special strain gauge Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (12)

7 Strain gauge and pressure transducers Membrane-type pressure transducer Hollow cylinder pressure transducer Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (13) General information The Pressure measurement UNI-TRAIN card SO4203-5S has two sensors for measuring pressure. The first sensor is an absolute pressure sensor calibrated to measure from a fixed reference point (the pressure of a vacuum). The voltage in the related measuring bridge is then proportional to the pressure at the input of the sensor. The second sensor measures differential pressure, i.e. the difference between pressures exerted at its two inputs. The output voltage of the bridge is proportional to the pressure difference in this case. In order to apply a defined pressure to the sensors, a hand pump (see right-hand photograph below) with an integrated pressure gauge (manometer). Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (14)

8 General information Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (15) General information The sensors themselves are composed of two different models in the SCC range from the company SenSym ( This range includes low-cost-sensors for pressures from up to psi. All these types of sensor have internal temperature compensation. The absolute sensor is an SCC15AD2 and the differential sensor is of type SCC05DD4. The following excerpt from the data sheet for the series provides a summary of the characteristic parameters for the sensors. All these parameters are quoted with respect to a supply current of IS = 1.0 ma and an ambient temperature of T A = 25 C. The two types of sensor used on the card are highlighted in yellow. The characteristic data in the Table below applies to all types of sensor in the range. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (16)

9 General information Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (17) General information Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (18)

10 General information In addition the sensors are available in various package formats. The following graphics illustrate the equivalent electrical circuit for the sensors (left) and the package formats with pin assignments (right). Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (19) Principle of piezo-electric sensors Certain materials such as crystallized quartz (SiO 2 ) or tourmaline have a crystal lattice with a regular distribution of positively and negatively charged atoms. If a piece is cut out of such a crystal that is perpendicular to the so-called electrical axis, the charge on the opposing surfaces at either side of this gap differs when pressure or tension is applied. This effect is known as the piezo-effect. Materials of this kind are called piezo-electric materials. The following illustration illustrates the principle. Principle of piezo-electric sensors Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (20)

11 Principle of piezo-electric sensors The deformation of the crystal is highly exaggerated in the animation in order to highlight the effect. In reality, the deformation is very slight. Applications for the piezoeffect include the crystal styluses of record players and crystal microphones. The piezo-effect can also operate in reverse. If a voltage is applied across a piezo electric crystal, it will expand or contract (depending on the polarity of the voltage). This effect is called piezo-translation. Design of piezo-electric sensors Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (21) Principle of piezo-electric sensors In terms of electrical circuits, a piezo-sensor of this kind resembles a capacitor. The action of the force causes the capacitor to accumulate a charge Q. This gradually discharges so that the sensor is only suitable for dynamic measurements and not static ones. The following animation shows how the voltage U changes when a constant force F is applied. Design of piezo-electric sensors Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (22)

12 Design of piezo-electric sensors The graphic alongside shows the equivalent circuit for a piezo-sensor. The time constant T = R C indicates how fast the crystal discharges, i.e. how long it takes the voltage to return to normal when the force is removed. Right-hand picture: to measure the piezo-voltage, high-resistance signal converters are used. Piezosensors are suitable for measuring large forces and high pressures (10,000 bars and above). Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (23) Absolute and differential pressure sensors Industrial piezo-sensors are normally available both as absolute pressure sensors and as differential pressure sensors (see right). Absolute pressure sensors have an internal reference pressure (vacuum) and provide a voltage output directly proportional to the applied pressure. Differential pressure sensors have two inputs and the voltage that is output is proportional to the difference in pressure at these two inputs. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (24)

13 Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Determining the characteristic for a sensor In the following experiment the static characteristic of an absolute pressure sensor will be determined. Pressure is supplied using a hand pump with a manometer and the output voltage is measured using the virtual instrument Voltmeter A. The actual voltage produced by the sensor will be amplified by the instrumentation amplifier. The measuring bridge with the sensor is supplied with power from a constant voltage source. The following graphic shows the relevant circuit. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (25) Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Determining the characteristic for a sensor In the following experiment the static characteristic of an absolute pressure sensor will be determined. Pressure is supplied using a hand pump with a manometer and the output voltage is measured using the virtual instrument Voltmeter A. The actual voltage produced by the sensor will be amplified by the instrumentation amplifier. The measuring bridge with the sensor is supplied with power from a constant voltage source. The following graphic shows the relevant circuit. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (26)

14 Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor First open the Instrumentation Amplifier and set the following parameters: Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (27) Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Open Voltmeter A and set the following parameters: Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (28)

15 Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Increase the pressure acting on the sensor with the aid of the hand pump starting from 0 mmhg and going up in steps of 20 mmhg. Measure the output voltage from the instrumentation amplifier u Out at each stage. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (29) Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Enter the values you obtain into the following table. When you have finished, switch the table into Chart mode to view the characteristic. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (30)

16 Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Enter the values you obtain into the following table. When you have finished, switch the table into Chart mode to view the characteristic. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (31) Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor What is the nature of the resulting characteristic? What is the total gain of the sensor and amplifier in V/mbar? Enter your answer in the box below. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (32)

17 Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor Now repeat the experiment starting from a pressure of 300 mmhg and going down in steps of 20 mmhg. Enter the values you obtain into the following table. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (33) Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor When you have finished, switch the table into Chart mode to view the characteristic. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (34)

18 Experiment - Absolute pressure sensor What is your interpretation of the results you obtain? Enter your answer in the box below. Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (35) Thank You Ossama Abouelatta Mechanical Engineering Department Faculty of Engineering Albaha University Albaha, KSA Assoc. Prof. Ossama Abouelatta, Mechanical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Albaha University (36)

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