An Iowa State University researcher has developed a new process that can literally look inside machines, liquid and other materials . Ted Heindel says the X-ray flow visualization facility takes images of liquids, solids and gases as they flow through a 20-foot high plexiglass column. He says it’s like a vertical cat-scan, but instead of putting things on down a table, they’re put on a lift and moved into a region were the instruments can look inside them. He says as an example they see what happens when ink-removing bubbles pass through a mixture of water and paper fiber to improve paper recycling. Or they can see problems in a grain bin. He says they can find regions where grains are getting stuck and try to improve the regions so the grain doesn’t stick. He says they can also see into food products that’re being blended to see how they blend together. Heindel says the images produced can lead to improved products for consumers. He says it can lead to cleaner paper, better food mixing, as well as improve the process for making ethanol. Heindel and his colleagues are still making some final adjustments before seeking companies to use the new system. He says it’s a matter of tweaking some of the image analysis to get better images and improve their understanding of what’s going on. Heindel said it will likely be about six months before researchers are ready to use the facility for specific industrial or academic projects.
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