JM wins grant from Innovate UK to develop HTX sensor wire

One of the biggest innovations in the field of precious metal thermocouples, our HTXTM sensor wire will help improve the efficiency of jet engines and nuclear reactors.

In October, Johnson Matthey was awarded a grant in the ‘Analysis for Innovators’ (A4I) competition to develop its HTXTM wire.

HTX wire allows extremely high temperatures to be measured over long periods of time that were previously not possible. This allows our customers to benefit from more efficient processes and reduced costs.

The HTX wire is made by doping platinum with a very small quantity of zirconium which is oxidised during processing to zirconia. Zirconia improves the high temperature strength of platinum wire by pinning the grain boundaries and restricting the grain growth without drastically affecting the electromotive force. The result is a wire that lasts more than 400 times longer than platinum wire at temperatures over 1200oC, while maintaining the necessary tight tolerances.

In some environments, such as glass furnaces, the whole production line needs to shut down to replace the thermocouples that have failed prematurely. Our HTX wire lasts considerably longer than standard thermocouples extending operational periods and reducing downtime. In other applications, most notably jet engines, the HTX thermocouple can be placed closer to the hottest parts of the engine to improve efficiency – something that is not possible with standard thermocouple wire.

Les Hutton, Product Specialist said: “Our vision at Johnson Matthey is for a world that’s cleaner and healthier. The long life and better drift properties exhibited by HTX could allow better designs of engines and nuclear reactors which could ultimately improve their efficiency.”

The A4I competition, organised by Innovate UK, identifies promising ideas that can be improved using state-of-the-art laboratories. JM will be using the grant to assess the long-term performance (over 1000 hours) of HTX wire, specifically thermoelectric stability, accuracy and homogeneity, at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in location. The data generated will be pivotal in demonstrating the benefits of HTX wire and the low risk associated with it, as required by the highly regulated nuclear and aerospace industries, where new products can be uncertain and costly.


Read more

Products and services

Precious metal products


Back to all news

Uncover the latest news, articles and updates from JM.