Standard Active Last Updated: May 14, 2021 Track Document
ASTM E601-20

Standard Guide for Measuring Electromotive Force (EMF) Stability of Base-Metal Thermoelement Materials With Time in Air

Standard Guide for Measuring Electromotive Force (EMF) Stability of Base-Metal Thermoelement Materials With Time in Air E0601-20 ASTM|E0601-20|en-US Standard Guide for Measuring Electromotive Force (EMF) Stability of Base-Metal Thermoelement Materials With Time in Air Standard new BOS Vol. 14.03 Committee E20
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Significance and Use

5.1 This test is important because the accuracy of a temperature measurement by a thermocouple is directly related to the emf stability of the thermoelements.

5.2 This test is used to verify that the tested thermoelements meet the intended requirements.

5.3 This test is useful in comparing the emf stability of two base metal thermoelements under the same conditions. The test and reference emf may be measured either simultaneously or alternately.

5.4 The relative stabilities of base metal thermoelements determined by this test are valid only under the specified test conditions. Results will be affected by changes in any of the following conditions: (1) temperature profile or gradient along the length of the thermoelements, (2) abundance, velocity and composition of the air surrounding the test pieces, (3) thermoelectric inhomogeneity of the test thermoelements, and (4) stability of the platinum thermoelement.

5.5 The test does not address the determination of base metal thermoelement stabilities over a series of temperature changes.

5.6 The reliability of this test depends on the emf stability of the reference platinum thermoelement. For testing the relative emf stability of base-metal thermoelements, a reference element of platinum that has sufficient thermoelectric stability to determine any significant change in emf of base-metal thermoelements shall be used. To ascertain that the experimental method protects the platinum sufficiently from degradation, the method shall be validated by performing the procedure described in Appendix X1 prior to the actual test.

5.7 The test result does not apply to applications in which the temperature distribution, for a given measuring junction temperature, changes with time.


1.1 This guide provides a method for measuring the emf stability of base-metal thermoelement materials in air referenced to platinum at specified constant elevated temperatures using dual, simultaneous, emf indicators, or using a single emf indicator, with the test and reference emf measured alternately. This test is conducted over a period of weeks.

1.2 A calibrated platinum-rhodium/platinum thermocouple is used as a reference standard to establish the test temperature.

1.3 The useful life of a thermocouple depends on the stability of the emf generated at given temperatures for a required time interval. This method provides a quantitative measure of the stability of individual thermoelements. By combining the results of the positive (P) and negative (N) thermoelements, the stability of a thermocouple comprised of both P and N thermoelements may be obtained. The emf of an individual thermoelement is measured against platinum, which may be the platinum leg of the platinum-rhodium/platinum reference thermocouple, or an additional platinum reference.

Note 1: Some thermoelements may show insignificant emf drift while undergoing relatively rapid oxidation. In these cases, failure of the thermoelement may be indicated only by a large rise in the electrical resistance between joined thermoelements, as measured at the reference junctions.

Note 2: See ASTM MNL12 for recommended upper temperature limits in air.2

Note 3: This guide is only applicable for initially new unused thermoelements. Base-metal thermoelements exposed to temperatures above 200 °C become thermoelectrically inhomogeneous, and stability testing of inhomogeneous thermoelements will give ambiguous results.

1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.5 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 14.03
Developed by Subcommittee: E20.11
Pages: 7
DOI: 10.1520/E0601-20
ICS Code: 17.200.20