Photos: Smokey Bear's neutron tool

Photos: Smokey Bear's neutron tool

Summary: A plane swoops toward a wildfire to dump its payload of flame retardant. Dramatic, yes. But heroic pilots are only part of the story.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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  • A neutron radiograph pinpoints problems

    The neutron radiograph is recorded on film similar to that used for X-rays. Unlike an X-ray, however, which can see through water but is stopped by metal, a neutron scan penetrates metal but is stopped by water and corrosion. That's enabled Egbert to find flaws that are invisible to the eye and to other systems. And, in some cases, it's allowed him to show that apparent weaknesses are, in fact, stronger than they look.

    This image shows a neutron radiograph of an outlet tube from one of the retardant tanks. Pits of corrosion that have reduced the thickness of the metal are marked.

  • A second radiograph showing flaws

    A second radiograph showing the outlet tube. The radiographs are analyzed with software similar to that used for X-rays, and the files can be e-mailed to relevant parties.

  • Tnaks loaded into a C-130

    Once any repairs have been made and the tanks have been OK'd for service, they make their way back to the airstrip, where they're loaded onto a MAFF and into a C-130...

Topic: Tech Industry

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