June 16th – By the old mill on the canal in Pleck, there’s a narrowboat undergoing renovation. I noticed today that you could clearly see the anodes, the silver ingots of (usually magnesium or zinc) fixed to the hull, under what would be the waterline.
The idea is pure science: the ingots form an electrical pairing with the hull and metalwork of the boat, and as a consequence, are depleted in preference to it – thus preventing corrosion on the boat itself.
The ingots are called ‘sacrificial anodes’ and are common on boats, pipework and other water-exposed metal items: galvanising is a good example of this science in action. Different metals are used in different environments.
You can read more here.
Real science – it works, folks…
November 28th – Oh my, this is a geeky thing. I spotted on the pavement near the Warwick Road near Sparkbrook. It’s a small, orange box with a radio antenna, and some kind of display. From it, there’s a signal cable popped through the access cover of a fire hydrant. There was nobody in sight and it just sat there, protected by a road cone.
This is actually part of a very clever water leak detection system made by SebaKMT, a measurement technology company. This rechargeable device is one of two recorders placed near a suspected water leak. An audio sensor is attached to the pipe beneath the cover from each recorder, and both units ‘listen’ to the noise made by the escaping water transmitted up the pipework.
The data from each is broadcast wirelessly to a third device, held by a technician, and that calculates the exact distance of the leak down the pipe from the sensors, by time lag in the audio signals recorded.
By taking several measurements, it can pinpoint within centimeters the place where engineers should dig to fix a leak that may not e evident on the surface. Such devices can save a huge amount of time and money to utility companies.