Comparative calibration vs. fixed point calibration

In temperature calibration technology, you can find two methods of calibration ? the comparative calibration and the fixed point calibration. The technique of calibration to be used will be defined through the demands on the accuracy and the sort of test instrument. The comparative method represents probably the most widely used approach to calibration.
Just how do the comparative calibration and fixed point calibration methods differ? Using the exemplory case of calibrating a resistance thermometer, this website article explains both methods and therefore tries to convey to the reader a better understanding.
The comparative calibration
As the name already implies, this kind of calibration is completed by comparing the resistance thermometer being tested with a higher-quality reference thermometer. The higher-quality reference should thus exhibit an accuracy of 3 or 4 times greater than the thermometer being tested. Both thermometers are put right into a single homogenous temperature source. When placing the thermometers, care should be taken to ensure a small distance between them and that the sensitive points (meaning the measuring points) are in exactly the same height. As a temperature source, liquid baths or dry-well calibrators are usually used.
The fixed point calibration
The fixed point calibration, in contrast to the comparative calibration, is carried out contrary to the defined triple, freezing and melting points from the International Temperature Scale of 1990 (ITS-90). The fixed points define temperatures of which the physical state of substances alter. The most important fixed point of the ITS-90 is the triple point of water. At a temperature of 0.010 �C the physical state of high-purity water is continually changing between steam, ice and liquid water. Inspired of the physical states always stay in proportion. Generally, only national laboratories or laboratories qualifying for very small measurement uncertainties work with these fixed-point cells, as they are costly and specialised limited to this application. Highly stable PRTs (platinum resistance thermometers), which is used as reference thermometers, are calibrated using the fixed point method. The reference sensor is inserted right into a closed, or also open fixed-point cell, which holds the temperature constant over an extended period.
Example: fixed points from -189 to 660 �C in accordance with ITS-90:
Fixed point
Temperature
Triple point of argon
-189,3442 �C
Triple point of mercury
-38,8344 �C
Triple point of water
0,01 �C
Melting point of gallium
29,7646 �C
Freezing point of indium
156,5985 �C
Freezing point of tin
231,928 �C
Freezing point of zinc
419,527 �C
Freezing point of aluminium
660,323 �C
Note
Further information on our Services ?Temperature calibration? can be found on the WIKA website.

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