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A new tool for investigating industrial components


In fact a new scientific instrument has been brought on line at the ILL, with the capacity to test industrial-scale components. The neutrons generated at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) have the capacity to penetrate far inside all sorts of matter and the new instrument SALSA can do more. With SALSA scientists and engineers can test materials in a non-destructive manner, without for example being obliged to cut up the parts they are checking. This means that whole turbine blades or cam shafts can be investigated “as is”.

SALSA’s outstanding feats have already caught the attention of specialists in industry. The instrument is linked to a hexapod (resembling a flight simulator) which is used to position and orient the object under scrutiny to a precision measurable in tens of microns – even though the object can weigh up to 1000 kg! The first tests have been particularly conclusive: it took only a few hours of work on a heavy steel weld seam to establish its resistance and levels of damage, and how it had been transformed.

The industrial applications are clear here, particularly in areas such as aerospace, engineering and the transport industry, where accurate data on the health of components can be vital.

But SALSA can also dance to other tunes : ceramics, surface and heat treatment, construction materials... In any event this latest addition to the ILL’s suite of neutron instruments brings new possibilities to industrial R&D.

Françoise Vauquois | alfa
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