News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | July 01, 2016

Huge Helium Discovery Safeguards Future Supply for MRI Scanners

Revelation of one of the world’s biggest helium gas fields in Africa mitigates concerns about dwindling global supplies

MRI scanners, helium gas field discovery, Africa, future supply

July 1, 2016 — Helium is essential for many modern technologies, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. Now, researchers have developed systematic search methods to discover one of the world’s biggest helium gas fields, associated with volcanoes in the Tanzanian Rift Valley in Africa.

This is the first time that helium has been found intentionally —previous finds were by accident — and opens the way for further large finds. This work was reported at the Goldschmidt conference in Yokohama, Japan.

Recent years have seen worries about the over-exploitation of this extremely limited, finite, valuable natural resource, with fears that supply could not be guaranteed into the medium to long-term future. In 2015, the British Medical Association expressed concern that helium supplies may have to be regulated.

Now a team from Oxford and Durham universities, jointly led by Prof.Chris Ballentine and Prof. Jon Gluyas, has worked together with a helium exploration company, Helium One Ltd, to help uncover a huge helium resource in Tanzania.

The team applied methodologies used in oil exploration in their search for helium. Normally oil exploration takes into consideration a range of factors, such as the rocks sourcing the oil, and how the oil is released into underground reservoirs. Crucially, the team found that being close to a volcano may be key, as the volcanic activity acts as the releasing mechanism for helium gas.

Ballentine said, "By combining our understanding of helium geochemistry with seismic images of gas trapping structures, independent experts have calculated a probable resource of 54 Billion Cubic Feet (BCf) in just one part of the rift valley. This is around the size of 600,000 Olympic sized swimming pools with helium gas. That's nearly seven times the total amount of helium consumed globally every year and enough to fill over 1.2 million medical MRI scanners when converted to liquid helium." While developing the technique in 2015, members of the same research group postulated significant helium resources in the Rocky Mountains.

"Now we understand the techniques, we anticipate more large helium finds", said Ballentine, "This will help safeguard society's future helium needs."

 

Read the article "World War I German Zeppelin Raids Helped Enable Today’s MRI Systems - MRI imaging benefits from the legacy of post-WWI legislation."

 

For more information: www.goldschmidt.info

Related Content

FDA Clears Advancements for Viewray MRIdian Radiation Therapy System
Technology | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) | February 21, 2019
February 21, 2019 — ViewRay Inc. received 510(k) clearance from the U.S.
MRI and Computer Modeling Reveals How Wrist Bones Move

Using fast MRI, UC Davis researchers scanned left and right wrists of men and women and used the data to build computer models of the movement of wrist bones. The data could help understand wrist injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Image courtesy of Brent Foster and Abhijit Chaudhari, UC Davis.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 19, 2019
In a just-published Journal of Biomechanics article, the researchers proved a longtime assumption about individuals'...
Siemens Healthineers Demonstrates Artificial Intelligence, Healthcare Digitalization at HIMSS19
News | Artificial Intelligence | February 13, 2019
February 13, 2019 — At the 2019 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) global conference and e
Fujifilm Launches Latest Synapse 3D Version at HIMSS 2019

The new Intravoxel Incoherent Motion (IVIM) MR application in Synapse 3D

Technology | Advanced Visualization | February 08, 2019
Fujifilm Medical Systems U.S.A. will debut the latest version of its Synapse 3D solution at the Healthcare Information...
Study Assesses Risk of MRI Exams for Patients With Tattoos
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | February 01, 2019
A new European study concluded that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams pose little risk for people with tattoos,...
FDA Clears Perspectum's MRCP+ Digital Biliary Tree Viewer
Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | January 24, 2019
Perspectum Diagnostics received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its MRCP+...
Machine Learning Uncovers New Insights Into Human Brain Through fMRI
News | Neuro Imaging | January 11, 2019
An interdisciplinary research team led by scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has successfully...
Hypertension With Progressive Cerebral Small Vessel Disease Increases Cognitive Impairment Risk
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | January 08, 2019
Patients with high blood pressure and progression of periventricular white matter hyperintensities showed signs of...