BOC has announced yesterday, December 16 that it has signed a ten-year deal with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment to manage their supply of special gases.
The deal with Oxford Magnet Technology (OMT), based in Eynsham, near Oxford, will see BOC invest more than £5.5m in new capital equipment to create an on-site facilities management operation to co-ordinate OMT’s supply of cryogenic gases, such as liquid helium and liquid nitrogen.
In addition to monitoring the supply of gas, the three strong BOC on-site team will be responsible for the management of the helium gas recovery operation and the supply of re-liquefied helium to OMT. Gaseous helium is generated from liquid helium at various stages during the magnet testing process. The gaseous helium is recovered through a series of pipes into a network of gas bags. The gas is then compressed from the gas bags to medium and high-pressure storage. Once stored, the gas is then re-liquefied for use in future testing by OMT, or shipped for use by BOC in its gaseous business.
‘Increasing the volumes of recovered gas is a major focus of this contract,’ said Dave Fowler, BOC sales manager, special gases. ‘When the cost of helium is low, the level of unrecovered gas is not a major concern, but as the cost of helium increases so the loss level becomes more significant to the customer.
‘When you couple this with the tightening of helium supplies as world demand outstrips the development of new sources of supply, the recycling process becomes of paramount importance.’
The low boiling point of helium (-452.1 degrees Fahrenheit or -268.9 degrees Centigrade) makes it the only medium with which to create the very low temperatures required to test the superconducting magnets in MRI and nuclear magnetic resonance scanners and other specialised research equipment.