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Pressure testing Alvin foam

Holding Up Under Pressure

In addition to its need to submerge, the submersible Alvin also needs to float. For this, engineers rely on syntactic foam, which iscomposed of microscopic glass spheres embedded in an epoxy resin and is hard enough to resist crushing pressure, yet light enough to provide buoyancy. Last month, WHOI engineer Rod Catanach (shown here) and a team of technicians lead by Brian Durante finished testing new foam developed for Alvin by subjecting it to as much as 12,000 pounds per square inch (much more pressure than Alvin will be exposed to) in WHOI's pressure test facility. Next, the foam will be bonded into larger blocks and shaped to fit in the submersible as one of many upgrades being made to Alvin. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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