Will This X-Ray Machine Help You See Rust?

Will This X-Ray Machine Help You See Rust?

Corrosion of steel is a phenomenon that occurs worldwide and is costly when it comes to prevention and repair because often times the damage is done before being noticed. Well, imagine being able to see corrosion in steel structures like bridges despite them being encased in concrete. That is exactly what a new company is proposing to do in order to cut costs for repair and to provide an opportunity for further preventative measures.

image ©  JonRichfield

image © JonRichfield

Noticing the issue with steel corrosion going unnoticed when enclosed, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a technology that allows detection of corrosion in steel structures that are encased in concrete. The noninvasive imaging technology is similar to an X-ray or CT scan and involves using terahertz radiation - electromagnetic waves with frequencies 10-100x higher than the microwaves found in kitchens. 

image ©  Jamain

image © Jamain

While the technology is new, it offers an advantage compared to current detection methods because unlike other methods that detect rust through analyzing the changing thickness in steel support bars, this technology looks for the actual rust compound in the structure. 

image ©  Jebulon

image © Jebulon

If the tool becomes popular in the field, then NIST hopes to expand their expertise, "We are also interested in extending our technique to the detection of akageneite, another iron corrosion product that is antiferromagnetic. This compound often appears in rebar corrosion in reinforced concrete that has been exposed to a source of chlorine atoms- such as seawater in underwater structures or road deicing salts on highways".

image ©  Max Pixel

image © Max Pixel

While rust won't become a thing of the past with this technology, soon the high costs associated with repair work that has been left unseen may be left behind.

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Source: Digital Trends

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