Philips touts 1,111 helium-free MR installations

May 31, 2024
by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief
Philips has announced the installation of its 1,111th helium-free MR system. The milestone installation took place at Vida Imaging & Breast Center in Bayamón, Puerto Rico with Philips' BlueSeal 1.5T magnet technology.

Philips first introduced its helium-free MR solutions in 2018. By replacing conventional systems with BlueSeal magnets, the company estimates it has saved approximately 1.9 million liters of liquid helium. This innovation not only addresses economic and sustainability concerns but also enhances the resilience of MR systems, particularly in regions prone to natural disasters.

Dr. Mayra Maldonado, owner and CEO of Vida Imaging & Breast Center, highlighted the practical benefits of the technology in storm-prone areas. "Puerto Rico faces tropical storms every year. Philips BlueSeal magnet technology allows us to de-energize our MR system to prepare for these situations and quickly restore operations from the MR console once it is safe," she said.

Siemens Healthineers, another manufacturer of MR scanners, recently announced a £250 million ($314 million) investment in a new facility that will design and manufacture magnets for MR scanners requiring dramatically less helium than conventional systems.

Traditional MR scanners require up to 1,700 liters of liquid helium, much of which can be lost during shutdowns. In contrast, the BlueSeal magnet uses only 7 liters during manufacturing and retains it even during a magnet quench. This ensures the system can be shut down and re-energized efficiently, maintaining operational readiness in challenging conditions.

Additionally, the BlueSeal magnet's lighter weight — 900 kg less than traditional systems — enables installations in locations previously deemed unsuitable, such as elevated floors and buildings with construction limitations. The technology is also available in mobile units, broadening access to MR exams and promoting sustainability.