Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has significantly enhanced diagnostic medicine by allowing physicians to look deep inside the human body without using a scalpel.
Now, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are applying the technique to a broad range of industrial processes, using MRI to watch carpet dry from the inside, peer into peanut shells, and study how fabrics wick moisture away from the body. The work could lead to faster and more efficient drying processes, carpet less prone to mildew, and fabrics that are more comfortable to wear.
"The advantages for us are the same as for the medical community," explained Dr. Haskell W. Beckham, associate professor in Georgia Tech's School of Textile and Fiber Engineering. "The technique is non-invasive; we don't need special tracers, dyes or contrast agents for image capture, and information can be extracted from arbitrary locations inside opaque objects."
The Georgia Tech researchers are believed to be the only ones in the world using MRI to study textile drying.
Using the instrumentation in Georgia Tech's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center, Beckham and his collaborators have examined how moisture flows into carpets, measured where it accumulates, and monitored its removal as a function of time during conditions simulating industrial drying processes. They've also seen how surface fluorocarbon finishes affect the way water penetrates into the carpet.
While such information on fluid behavior within textiles is important in itself, it also provides a means for describing the internal structure of the material. This is especially useful for soft porous substrates such as textiles; the traditional method required physically cutting the sample into thin slices and then examining each slice using microscopy. Soft materials are easily deformed during such sample preparations.
The MRI technique has the unique ability to follow fluid
distribution in real time. "For carpets and t
Contact: John Toon
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News