Non-intrusive torque measurement for rotating shafts using optical sensing of zebra-tapes

D. Zappalá, M. Bezziccheri, C. J. Crabtree, N. Paone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Non-intrusive, reliable and precise torque measurement is critical to dynamic performance monitoring, control and condition monitoring of rotating mechanical systems. This paper presents a novel, contactless torque measurement system consisting of two shaft-mounted zebra tapes and two optical sensors mounted on stationary rigid supports. Unlike conventional torque measurement methods, the proposed system does not require costly embedded sensors or shaft-mounted electronics. Moreover, its non-intrusive nature, adaptable design, simple installation and low cost make it suitable for a large variety of advanced engineering applications. Torque measurement is achieved by estimating the shaft twist angle through analysis of zebra tape pulse train time shifts. This paper presents and compares two signal processing methods for torque measurement: rising edge detection and cross-correlation. The performance of the proposed system has been proven experimentally under both static and variable conditions and both processing approaches show good agreement with reference measurements from an in-line, invasive torque transducer. Measurement uncertainty has been estimated according to the ISO GUM (Guide to the expression of uncertainty in measurement). Type A analysis of experimental data has provided an expanded uncertainty relative to the system full-scale torque of ±0.30% and ±0.86% for the rising edge and cross-correlation approaches, respectively. Statistical simulations performed by the Monte Carlo method have provided, in the worst case, an expanded uncertainty of ±1.19%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number065207
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • cross-correlation
  • non-intrusive torque measurement
  • pulse train rising edge
  • pulse train time shift
  • shaft twist angle
  • uncertainty
  • zebra tape


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