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Siemens Healthineers invests $314 million in low-helium MR manufacturing

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | May 14, 2024
European News MRI
Siemens Healthineers is investing £250 million ($314 million) in a new facility in North Oxfordshire, U.K., to design and manufacture superconducting magnets for MR scanners requiring dramatically less helium than conventional systems.

The new site, covering 56,000 square meters, will use the company's DryCool technology, which cuts the helium requirement from 1,500 liters to less than one liter and can be used in a closed circuit system without the need for a quench pipe.

In 2021, Siemens received FDA clearance for Magnetom Free.Max, its first reduced helium, closed circuit scanner. The .55 Tesla system leverages AI for image reconstruction, (an algorithm called Deep Resolve). At less than two meters high and weighing around three tons, Magnetom Free systems can be brought through the door to their destination and installed there — without the need for extensive construction work.
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In 2022, the Magnetom Free.Star, an even lighter, smaller, and more affordable version, received FDA clearance.

At ECR, earlier this year, Siemens Healthineers unveiled another virtually helium-free MR scanner, Magnetom Flow, a 1.5 Tesla solution that also requires no quench pipe.

Scheduled to commence operations in 2026, the U.K. facility is expected to generate over 1,300 jobs, significantly impacting the local economy and retaining more than 600 existing jobs from another Siemens Healthineers site in Eynsham. The plant will also house a research and development hub focused on creating some of the smallest and most lightweight whole-body MR scanners in the world.

In addition to addressing sustainability concerns and the global helium supply challenges, the site is designed to be operationally carbon-neutral. Environmental considerations include strategies to minimize energy demand and enhance community health and well-being.

From left: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt and Bernd Montag, CEO Siemens Healthineers. Source: Simon Dawson / 10 Downing Street
During a visit, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised the initiative for reinforcing the UK's leadership in global healthcare innovation and its potential to improve patient care worldwide.

Last September, Siemens Healthineers announced that employees Dr. Stephan Biber and Dr. David Grodzki, together with Dr. Michael Uder, director of the Radiological Institute of Uniklinikum Erlangen, Germany, were nominated for the German Future Prize (“Deutscher Zukunftspreis”; Federal President’s Award for Technology and Innovation) for the development and clinical application of Magnetom Free.

As of that announcement, Magnetom Free.Star and Magetnom Free.Max scanners were available in many countries including Brazil, India, and Angola.

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