In the 1970’s superconducting magnets have been developed based on superconducting wire, working at liquid helium temperatures.
This technology allowed the production of strong, compact magnets with low energy consumption. Many different types of these superconductive magnets have since been developed and used in many different applications. Main applications are magnets in science and research, and in medical scanners called MRI. MRI scanners use superconducting magnets cooled to 4K in order to take high-definition pictures of a patient’s brain, vital organs or soft tissue.
These superconducting magnets need to be cooled down and need to be kept cold, usually done with liquid helium. For a first cool-down, a superconducting magnet is often cooled with LN2 to first reach 77K. This is then pumped out, after which LHe is used to cool down further.
This process is complicated and costly because the LN2 must be removed completely as it will induce quenching. The further cool-down from 77K to 4K with LHe is costly and not efficient because a large amount of expensive liquid helium will be lost.
Stirling has designed an alternative pre-cooling system to make this energy intensive process more efficient.
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