Helium | How Helium Cools MRI Machines?

Helium | How Helium Cools MRI Machines?

 How Helium Cools MRI Machines?

At Abdullah Hashim Industrial Gases & Equipment, one of our standard products that we offer is Helium. Helium (He) is a chemical element, the first of the periodic table’s noble gas group. Helium is most known for its use in making balloons float. However, one of the most important uses for Helium is in Magnetic Resonance Imaging units, most commonly referred to as MRI.  this

Some Facts About Helium:

  • The boiling point and melting point of helium are the lowest of all other substances, and its boiling point is -268.9°C.
  • It is the only element that cannot solidify by cooling at atmospheric pressure, regardless of temperature, only at 25 atm and a temperature of -272.2°C or below will it become solid.
  • It is a colorless, tasteless, odorless, and inert monatomic gas.
  • Helium is very light; it is the second lightest gas in the periodic table. As a result, Earth’s gravity is not strong enough to hold it in its atmosphere. Therefore, when helium gas is released, it will rise up and eventually escape into space.

Helium is Produced by:

There is currently no way to produce helium on an industrial scale on Earth, it is mainly extracted. All commercial helium is recovered from underground deposits, which is a result of the natural decay of radioactive material within the Earth. However, this process is slow and produces only small amounts of helium, therefore it is not viable for commercial and industrial scales. Helium usually makes up a tiny portion of the natural gas deposit but on rare occasions, it can make up as much as 10% of natural gas in some fields.

What is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging  (MRI) machine?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues in your body. MRI’s are one of the game-changing technologies in the medical community. MRI allows medical professionals to collect important information about their patient’s condition without exposing them to radiation. It provides a great level of detail and clarity and and excels especially when examining soft tissues such as the brain or muscles.

How does a MRI machine work? And How is helium used in the scanner?

  • An MRI scanner is made of coils, a magnet, and wires that conduct electrical currents.
  • When in operation, it generates a large amount of heat.
  • In order to function properly for an entire session and even continuously throughout the day, the scanners require a coolant that will also provide the scanner with superconductive properties.
  • Superconductivity allows the current to flow through the low resistance coils.
  • Therefore enabling the scanner to generate high-intensity magnetic fields.
  • Liquid helium is used as it is the perfect element to provide superconductivity to the scanner, while at the same time it allows the scanner to maintain a cool operating temperature during operation.

Why liquid helium?

  • Because it is cold enough to provide the levels of superconductivity required in MRI scanners.
  • It cools down the superconducting magnets, which generate images of the human body, to a temperature below 4.2 Kelvin (-269°C).

What is Superconductivity?

It is the physical effect that occurs in different materials when exposed to extremely low temperatures. It allows the electrical current to flow through the electrical conductor without generating electrical resistance, which results in zero power losses.

Hence, helium allows MRI machines to work efficiently,  efficiently, and reliably.  At AHG, we provide the helium to make this happen. AHG has been proving our products and services to the medical industry for over 65 years. Get in touch with us to find out more.

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