Wanna see a dirty picture?
A new ultrasound camera promises to give homeland security responders the ability to find explosives or mines concealed in muddy underwater environments. The same device could be used by search and rescue divers to locate survivors trapped in opaque waters.
The unit, designed to use ultrasound technology for industrial nondestructive detection of sub-surface defects in materials such as composite and metal structures, has obvious homeland protection potential.
The Acoustocam device, in pulse echo configuration, enables examiners to view the sample at various depths in realtime, at 30 frames per second, to 0.02 inch/0.5 mm resolution. The camera also see through muddy water, so homeland security and rescue divers can locate targets. (Imperium photo)
“Homeland security applications revolve around underwater and harbor imaging to find mines and any number of other objects difficult to see in murky water,” said Bob Lasser, CEO of Imperium, Silver Spring, Md., maker of the ultrasound camera.
The unit addresses one of the most difficult challenges in industrial material inspection: how to detect internal damage. Lasser said the Acoustocam I500 can immediately detect a variety of internal flaws such as impact damage, voids, delaminations, disbonds, corrosion and internal cracks. In many of these cases, this type of damage isn’t visible on the exteriors of the structures.
For example, most newer aircraft are built of lightweight composite materials. One concern about composites, however, is that internal defects, which can be catastrophic in flight, are undetectable on the outside of the aircraft skin. Lasser said with this new camera, internal damage can be quickly detected and quantified by any mechanic or inspector before failure occurs. The inspection is totally noninvasive.
The tool has broad application in the aerospace, petrochemical, power, automotive, marine, sporting goods and microelectronics industries, but it also has clear homeland protection and underwater search and rescue potential, since the camera can see through murky water that visible light normally can’t penetrate.
“When the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis last year, there was no way for rescue divers to see in the water for salvage and recovery,” Lasser told Homeland1, suggesting that if divers had had the ultrasound device, outcomes might have been better in the dark, muddy river water.
The military is already aware of the camera. The company is currently working on a mine detection program with the Navy.