Development of a driftless Johnson noise thermometer for nuclear applications
National Physical Laboratory,
2 Metrosol Ltd, Paulersbury, UK
Jonathan Pearce is with the National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington, TW11 0LW, United Kingdom (telephone: +44 (0)20 8943 6886, e-mail: email@example.com)
Paul Bramley is with Metrosol Limited, Plum Park Estate, Watling Street, Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, NN12 6LQ, United Kingdom (telephone: +44 (0)1327 810284, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
David Cruickshank is with Metrosol Limited, Plum Park Estate, Watling Street, Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, NN12 6LQ, United Kingdom (telephone: +44(0)1327 810284 e-mail: email@example.com)
Published online: 20 January 2020
Existing temperature sensors such as thermocouples and platinum resistance thermometers suffer from calibration drift, especially in harsh environments, due to mechanical and chemical changes (and transmutation in the case of nuclear applications). A solution to the drift problem is to use temperature sensors based on fundamental thermometry (primary thermometers) where the measured property is related to absolute temperature by a fundamental physical law. A Johnson noise thermometer is such a sensor and uses the measurement of the extremely small thermal voltage noise signals generated by any resistive element to determine temperature using the Johnson-Nyquist equation. A Johnson noise thermometer never needs calibration and is insensitive to the condition of the sensor material, which makes it ideally suited to long-term temperature measurement in harsh environments. These can include reactor coolant circuits, in-pile measurements, nuclear waste management and storage, and severe accident monitoring. There have been a number of previous attempts to develop a Johnson noise thermometer for the nuclear industry, but none have achieved commercialization because of technical difficulties. We describe the results of a collaboration between the National Physical Laboratory and Metrosol Limited, which has led to a new technique for measuring Johnson noise that overcomes the previous problems that have prevented commercialization. The results from a proof-of-principle prototype that demonstrates performance commensurate with the needs of nuclear applications is presented, together with details of progress towards the commercialization of the technology. The development partners have effected a step change in the application of primary thermometry to industrial applications and seek partners for field trials and further exploitation.
Key words: Thermometry / Johnson noise / Johnson noisethermometry / traceability / ITS-90 / temperature measurement
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.