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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Displacement and temperature sensors get smaller and smarter for the automotive and motorsport markets
Article Type: Mini features From: Sensor Review, Volume 33, Issue 2
Current trends indicate that smaller, more compact, more intelligent displacement measurement sensors are now required, particularly in high performance motorsport and automotive applications.
With pressure on motorsport teams and passenger vehicle manufacturers to minimise the weight of onboard systems and therefore reduce fuel consumption and vehicle emissions, the requirement for extremely compact sensors is now a critical factor, especially if installation space is also restricted. This is also true for integration – both in terms of electronics and building more intelligence into the sensor itself, without the need for any bulky, separate controllers. This means that displacement and laser profile sensors are more frequently required to perform signal conditioning directly in the sensor, therefore reducing component count, whilst offering faster measurement speeds.
Manufacturers of automotive turbochargers, for example, now require measurement systems to test the performance limits of their products. Measurement systems are required to monitor the temperature and speed of the blades on the turbine wheel. Due to increasing material stresses and higher speeds (up to 400,000 rpm), turbocharger blades are now made from either aluminium or titanium, which presents a challenge in terms of measurement technologies. Titanium is a very poor electrical conductor and so eddy current sensors cannot be used easily on titanium. However, using special linearisation and advanced electronics, measurement systems have been developed (such as Micro-Epsilon’s turboSPEED sensors) that are able to accurately measure the speed (and temperature) of both aluminium and titanium turbocharger blades over the complete speed range – in both multiple test cell and on-vehicle testing. These sensors are robust, resistant to oil and dirt, extremely compact and slim, with the latest versions measuring just 3 mm in diameter.