By By Michael Balsamo, TIME Magazine’s marine environment reporterWe’re getting closer to the end of the age of the pipe.
As the pipes of the last century began to die out, some researchers started looking for new materials to replace them.
In the 1980s, a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey began investigating the use of metals to improve corrosion resistance in pipes.
Over the years, they developed various compounds and found that they all worked well.
One of the compounds they tested was stainless steel.
But while stainless steel was well-known for its ability to withstand water, it was also relatively weak.
The researchers concluded that corrosion resistance was dependent on the type of steel used in the pipe, and not the pipe itself.
So in the mid-1990s, they set out to figure out how to improve the corrosion resistance of stainless steel in a new type of pipe, one that could be used for all sorts of applications.
The result is called a water-treatable stainless steel tube, or WST.
The tube was designed to be easy to install and easy to clean, making it a perfect candidate for the purpose of sea water treatment.
It is made of a series of stainless steels that are bonded together, giving it the strength to withstand being immersed in seawater.
“If you have a very strong water treatment system, then you can treat water as a solid and you can reuse that water,” says Rhett MacDougall, a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.
“But the problem is, we have to do that for a very long time, which is very costly.”
So the researchers set out with a simple goal: They wanted to design a stainless steel tubing that would be resistant to corrosion for decades, and that would still work well for a wide variety of applications, including treating seawater for drinking, cooking, and even industrial purposes.
But their ultimate goal was to design the tubing so that it could withstand the environment for at least a decade, which was something that most of us probably already do every day.
In the 1990s, researchers at the U-M Institute for Materials and Engineering discovered that the strength of a steel tube was largely determined by its length.
As a rule, a pipe with a diameter of 4.5 inches or more is more resistant to water than a pipe of the same diameter, says Andrew K. Anderson, a senior materials engineer with the UMSE and lead author of a paper published in the journal Science last year.
And since stainless steel is a relatively lightweight material, it would be very difficult to build a pipe that could withstand being submerged in seawaters for decades.
So the researchers decided to find a material that would not only have high strength but also long lifetimes.
To find out more about corrosion resistance, the researchers took their design of a water resistant stainless steel to the next level by studying the structure of the water-resistant compound.
They wanted the material to have a particular composition, called an ion-exchange structure, which means it has a high amount of ions and electrons that form an electrical charge that helps it resist corrosion.
These ions and charges are produced by an electrolyte called calcium phosphate, and when the material is heated, they produce electrons that can be released to form an electric charge.
The resulting electric charge is used to drive a coil of electrodes that are used to conduct electrical current in the material.
The material is known as a conductive metal.
As the researchers found in their study, a material like stainless steel with a conductivity of less than 20 percent would be less corrosion resistant than a material with conductivity in the 30 percent range.
This suggests that a material of this type is not only very strong but also relatively stable in the environment, says Michael Belskus, an associate professor of materials science and engineering and director of the UM Institute of Materials and Electronic Engineering.
So if we can design a material in this range, then it can be used to treat water in seawards for years, if not decades, the scientists say.
The key is to find the right ion- exchange structure that produces the best results.
“The important thing to know is that the conductive structure is not a single molecule that is chemically bonded together and it has different properties from the rest of the material,” says Anderson.
“We can build a lot of different kinds of things that are very strong, and the best one for this purpose is stainless steel.”
The researchers then tested the material with a variety of different applications and found a mixture that could work for both treatment and non-treatment applications.
“The corrosion resistance is just like what you would expect,” says Belski.
“It’s like a sponge that you would soak for a while and it would eventually break down.
It’s like an oil filter that breaks down.”
In a study published in Nature Communications last year, the team also found that the stainless