(Eibar, 6th of February 2009). Tekniker-IK4 has designed and developed the most accurate barometer in the world for the Spanish Centre of Metrology (CEM), which belongs to the Department of Trade and Industry, and which has the responsibility for defining the legal units of measurement and controlling measuring devices. The equipment gives Spain a primary standard for pressure measurements and situates it as a worldwide benchmark ahead of The United States, Japan and South Korea, the countries which up until now have been the most advanced in this field.
The barometer, which has been developed over the last ten years and which has had a cost of over 1M€, was presented by the technological centre from Eibar on the 5th of February at the CEM's facilities in Tres Cantos (Madrid) and will start working immediately. It will now become the last stage to guarantee the validity of all pressure measurements in Spain and their compatibility with all those carried out in other countries, which is a key aspect for international recognition of commercial exchange and scientific-technological contributions.
This development by Tekniker-IK4 has a measurement uncertainty of absolute pressure of one pascal, a measurement which equates to approximately the pressure generated by four fingers of air in a measurement range of 1.3 terrestrial atmospheres, that is to say, around a height of 2600 kilometres. This incredible accuracy, the best so far achieved on an international level, places Spain at the forefront of pressure measurement (primary standard) and avoids the need to refer to equipment from other countries.
The CEM's new barometer will therefore be the final point of reference to check the pressure measurement of devices used in many fields and applications, from meteorology, plane's altimeters or the pressure of vehicles' tyres to domestic gas cylinders. Industrial applications are also important, especially in vacuum processes.
Furthermore, this new equipment reinforces Spain's focus on priority research areas defined by the European Union. This includes energy, health, environment, safety and welfare as well as strategic fields relating to renewable energies, water and new technologies used in the food industry.
Mercury columns and laser
Contrary to other main laboratories, such as the North American which measures the pressure by ultrasound, Tekinker-IK4's project is based on two connected columns of mercury, each supporting a float. These floats include laser beam reflectors, which identify the exact position of the mercury by interferometry. This is a technique, which involves combining the light coming from different receptors to obtain a higher resolution image.
The key to this measuring process lies in the density of the mercury, which, at the same time, depends on the temperature, pressure and earth's gravity. Of these three variables, the main source of uncertainty is temperature, which requires a measurement and control of the very highest accuracy currently available, in the range of a thousandth of a degree.
20 years of collaboration
The trust the Spanish Centre of Metrology has shown to Tekniker-IK4 in relation to the development of this barometer is the result of more than two decades of collaboration between both organisations. In fact, it represents the starting point for the specialisation of the Eibar technological centre in precision engineering and the procurement of scientific equipment, fields in which it has achieved a leading position.
Prior to this achievement, Tekniker IK4 had already provided the CEM with an interferometric comparator for large gauge blocks, two angular comparing tables and other minor equipment. But, without any doubt, the design and construction of the new pressure primary standard has been the biggest challenge for the technological capacity of Tekniker-IK4.
With over 25 years of experience in applied technology research and its transfer to the Basque industrial fabric, the Eibar-based centre has reached a high level of specialisation in four important areas (Precision Engineering and Mecatronics, Surface Engineering, Manufacturing and Automisation Engineering, and Production Technology). This has meant that Tekniker-IK4's top of the range technology can be put to the service of any activity. In 2008 it carried out projects worth approximately 19 million euros.