AutoQuiz is edited by Joel Don, ISA's social media community manager.

This automation industry quiz question comes from the ISA Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) program. Certified Control System Technicians calibrate, document, troubleshoot, and repair/replace instrumentation for systems that measure and control level, temperature, pressure, flow, and other process variables. Click this link for more information about the CCST program.

Cold junction compensation is required for which type of temperature measurement device?

a) resistance temperature detector
b) thermocouple
c) infrared pyrometer
d) bi-metal thermometer
e) none of the above

Click Here to Reveal the Answer

Thermocouples generate millivolt signals, which can be correlated to the measured temperature. As with all voltage signals, the millivolt signal developed by the thermocouple must be referenced to a known voltage. For example, in current loops, we often use earth ground as a voltage reference (0V).

Any connection a thermocouple makes (including the connections of the thermocouple wires to a terminal block or PLC input card) will form an additional measuring junction. Therefore, a reference junction, called a cold junction, is used to provide a junction with a known, stable output. This allows the thermocouple to generate a millivolt signal along the wires that can be correlated directly to the temperature reading of the measured process.

The correct answer is B, thermocouple. A thermocouple is comprised of two wires of dissimilar metals, connected at one end, which is placed in the process to be measured. This is called the measuring junction.

The other three temperature measurement devices listed in the problem statement do not require a cold junction reference.

Reference: Goettsche, L.D. (Editor), Maintenance of Instruments and Systems, 2nd Edition

About the Editor
Joel Don is the community manager for ISA and is an independent content marketing, social media and public relations consultant. Prior to his work in marketing and PR, Joel served as an editor for regional newspapers and national magazines throughout the U.S. He earned a master's degree from the Medill School at Northwestern University with a focus on science, engineering and biomedical marketing communications, and a bachelor of science degree from UC San Diego.

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