If the supply of helium continues to dwindle, helium-filled party balloons could be relegated to the past. Mindful of the element’s shortage, United Kingdom-based MR Solutions looks to continue its development of scanners that do not require liquid helium, with a new 7T unit in progress.
In 2013, MR Solutions produced the world’s first commercial, superconducting, preclinical, MRI scanner that does not require the traditional liquid helium-cooling jacket.
According to David Taylor, physicist and chief executive of MR Solutions, “within five years all new MRI scanners will be able to do away with the liquid helium jacket that keeps the superconducting magnet at 4° above absolute zero, a chilly minus 269 degrees centigrade.”
Taylor continued, “Following a number of years of research and development with our magnet partner, we have been able to dispense with the usual liquid helium cooling system by using a revolutionary magnet design incorporating superconducting wire. This enables the use of a standard low temperature fridge to cool the magnet to the required 4 degrees Kelvin.”
Ray Dolan, a professor at University College London, leads the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, which ceased taking appointments for its scanner in 2012 because of helium shortages. “We have now had to invest in expensive helium-capture technology to recover some of what is burnt off, and this decision was driven by a need to insulate ourselves against uncertainty over supply and cost,” Dolan said.
For more information, visit MR Solutions.
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