a year after the implosion of the Titan, which left five dead, finally an explanation?

a year after the implosion of the Titan, which left five dead, finally an explanation?
a year after the implosion of the Titan, which left five dead, finally an explanation?

What happened on June 18, 2023, in the depths of the North Atlantic? The question still remains, almost a year after the disappearance of the Titan submarine, with five people on board, during an expedition to see the Titanic. On June 23, 2023, five days after the tragedy, Canada announced that it had opened an investigation to try to understand the course of events which led to the disappearance of the submersible and the death of its passengers.

Researchers from the University of Houston put forward a hypothesis, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) and relayed by Newsweek. According to the American magazine, the researchers “studied how thin-walled structures can deform due to tiny imperfections in their materials”, thus putting forward the idea that the implosion would be due to the material used to make the shell and to its imperfections.

The phenomenon studied here is called buckling, in other words a bending that occurs due to plastic instability when a shell (in this case) is compressed. Newsweek quotes Roberto Ballarini, research director and professor of civil and environmental engineering, who said in a statement that “imperfections in the carbon fiber used to construct the Titan’s hull, compounded by damage accumulated from the ship’s previous dives , could have made it vulnerable and would ultimately have caused the machine to collapse.”

Random Fragility

The Titan was made of carbon fiber, like cars or planes. This material is very resistant but can deform in the event of imperfection and if subjected to abnormal pressure. According to Roberto Ballarini, “integrity [du Titan] may have been compromised by damage to the materials used for its hull which accumulated during the numerous voyages it made before its collapse.

The researchers tested the strength of a carbon fiber hull that had already suffered damage. Newsweek explains that “buckling may have started at the most severe imperfections, but because geometric imperfections are often randomly distributed around a hull like the Titan’s, the location of the initial buckling may also be random.” »There is therefore still research to be done before knowing precisely the location of the initial fault and confirming this hypothesis.

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