Fredlund Thermal Conductivity Sensor (FTC-100) from GCTS Testing Systems

The Fredlund Thermal Conductivity Sensor is an unsaturated soil sensor for measuring soil suction and temperature in the field. The system consists of ceramic-tipped sensors, a suction sensor controller (datalogger), and a power supply. Typically, 16 sensors are included with 10 m (30 ft) of cable for each sensor. The datalogger consists of a 16-channel multiplexer that can be connected to a laptop or PC. Power is supplied with a 12-Volt battery pack and a solar panel.

The sensor tip has a miniature heating element and a temperature sensor embedded in the center. The heating curve of the sensor is obtained by sending a controlled current to the heating element. The temperature rise (DT) in the sensor after heating depends on the water content of the sensor, which in turn a function of the surrounding soil suction. Calibration curves developed in the laboratory are provided to obtain the suction corresponding to field measured DT.

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