Originally posted: June 30, 2015
The subatomic muon could reveal potentially disastrous pipe corrosion.
By: Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
(Inside Science) — Of all the parts of the nation’s infrastructure that one might want least to fail, nuclear power plants might rank the highest. U.S. nuclear power plants are on average more than 30 years old now, and pipes within them can corrode over time with potentially lethal results. Now researchers suggest they could noninvasively scan infrastructure for weak points with the aid of subatomic particles streaking down from the sky.
Water and steam pumped through a pipe in a power plant or industrial refinery can eat away one side of the pipe. In 2004, such corrosion led a pipe to break at Mihama Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, killing five people and injuring six others with super-hot high-pressure steam in Japan’s worst nuclear power accident until Fukushima.
Analyzing the structural integrity of pipes typically involves ultrasound and X-ray scans. READ MORE