Saving Helium: The Importance of an Efficient MRI Chiller System

Helium is a finite, disappearing, and nonrenewable resource, and the world’s supply of it diminishes every day. Helium is also an integral part of the MRI process. The right MRI chiller system can save your helium, as well as decrease the amount of MRI downtime.

Heat and Cold

MRI systems are a marvel of medical technology. The non-invasive procedure produces 3D images of the body, with the benefit of not exposing patients to radiation like X-rays. It takes a massive amount of energy (and a massively strong magnet) to create the magnetic field necessary to produce those images. The energy produces heat, and MRI systems won’t work unless the components are kept extremely cold. That’s where liquid helium comes in. At a temperature of -452.2 degrees Fahrenheit, it keeps the system cold enough to operate. The extreme cold allows the magnet to become superconductive, which produces the high-quality images MRI systems are known for.

Rising Costs

Helium occurs naturally in two sources: radioactive decay at the Earth’s surface, or in the production of natural gas. The helium produced at the surface is so light, it floats away into the atmosphere with no economical way of to capture it. The artificial production of helium is not a cost-effective option either. That means the supply of liquid helium is refined from natural gas. Liquid helium is essential to many fields of study in the scientific community, in addition to those its value in the medical field. The increased demand, in concert with limited supply, has led to steeply rising costs in recent years.

Efficiency Is Key

Many standard MRI systems require at least 1,700 liters of liquid helium to operate. A portion of the helium evaporates during operation, which means an efficient MRI chiller system is important. First, it conserves helium, which means less money is spent “topping off” the system over time. Second, and just as important, an efficient MRI chiller system reduces downtime.

MRI systems are one of the biggest advances in medicine in recent years. They need to function properly, whether it’s an emergency or regularly scheduled appointment. Those images are vital in properly diagnosing a wide range of patients. In some cases, a successful MRI can mean the difference between life and death. MRI chiller manufacturers are constantly working to improve efficiency. Save money and increase system productivity with an efficient MRI chiller system!

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