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

Canon Medical Receives FDA Clearance for Vantage Orian 1.5T MRI
Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | November 15, 2018
Canon Medical Systems USA Inc. received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on its new...
Researchers Awarded 2018 Canon Medical Systems USA/RSNA Research Grants
News | Radiology Imaging | November 13, 2018
The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Research & Education (R&E) Foundation recently announced the...
Subtle Medical Showcases Artificial Intelligence for PET, MRI Scans at RSNA 2018
News | Artificial Intelligence | November 13, 2018
At the 2018 Radiological Society of North America annual meeting (RSNA 2018), Nov. 25-30 in Chicago, Subtle Medical...
This is the Siemens Magnetom Sola RT edition 1.5T MRI system optimized for radiation therapy displayed for the first time since gaining FDA clearance in 2018. It was displayed at the American Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ASTRO) 2018 annual meeting. Read more about this system at ASTRO 2018. #ASTRO18 #ASTRO2018
360 Photos | 360 View Photos | November 07, 2018
This is the Siemens Magnetom Sola RT edition 1.5T MRI system optimized for...
Fans of Opposing Soccer Teams Perceive Games Differently

Image courtesy of University of York

News | Neuro Imaging | October 25, 2018
Scientists have scanned the brains of die-hard soccer fans to find out why supporters of rival teams often have very...
IMRIS, Siemens Strengthen Collaboration in Hybrid OR Neurosurgical Market
News | Hybrid OR | October 24, 2018
IMRIS, Deerfield Imaging, in partnership with Siemens Healthineers, announced a strengthened collaboration to advance...
Carotid Artery MRI Improves Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | October 23, 2018
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements of wall thickness in the carotid arteries improve cardiovascular disease...
The Elekta Unity with 1.5T MRI embedded as a targeting system appeared at the annual meeting of the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Antonio, Texas. The system is being sold in Europe and could soon enter the U.S. marketplace. (Photo courtesy of Elekta)

The Elekta Unity with 1.5T MRI embedded as a targeting system appeared at the annual meeting of the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Antonio, Texas. The system is being sold in Europe and could soon enter the U.S. marketplace. (Photo courtesy of Elekta)

Feature | ASTRO | October 20, 2018 | By Greg Freiherr
A linear accelerator combined with high-field MRI could soon be on the U.S. market. If U.S.