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A quench is the rapid helium evaporation and the loss of superconductivity of the current-carrying coil that may occur unexpectedly, or from pressing the emergency button in a superconducting magnet. As the superconductive magnet becomes resistive, heat will be released that can result in boiling of liquid helium in the cryostat. This may present a hazard if not properly planned for.
The evaporated coolant requires emergency venting systems to protect patients and operators. Quenching can cause total magnet failure and cannot be stopped. MRI systems are designed such that all of the escaping cryogenic gas is directed out of the building (quench pipe through the roof or the wall). In the event of a burst of the tank (possible in the case of an accident) or a blockage of the pipes, the helium gas will be forced into the scanner room, giving rise to a large white cloud of chilled gas. Under such circumstances it is essential that the scanner room is evacuated, also caused by the displacement of oxygen, which under extreme conditions could lead to asphyxiation. The force of quenching can be strong enough to destroy the walls of the scanner room or the MRI equipment.
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The element helium (He) was discovered 1868 when P.J.C. Janssen and N. Lockyer detected a new line in the solar spectrum during the solar eclipse. Lockyer and E. Frankland suggested the name helium (Gr. Helios, the sun) for the new element. In 1895, helium was discovered in the uranium mineral cleveite and in 1907 it was found out that alpha particles are helium nuclei.
Properties: Helium belongs to the noble gases, is colorless, odorless, and occurs in two naturally isotopes, helium 3 and helium 4. As an inert gas, helium does not react chemically largely and don't burns. Helium 4 makes up over 99% of naturally occurring helium atoms. Helium is extracted from natural gas e.g. present in various radioactive minerals as a decay product. Deposits and sources are in the USA, Poland, the USSR, and a few in India. The rare deposits and increased consumption lead to a shortage of this gas.
K. Onnes worked for many years to liquefy helium, which persisted as a gas to the lowest temperature. Helium does not freeze at atmospheric pressure. The density of helium vapor at his boiling point of 4.2 Kelvin is very high, with the vapor expanding greatly when heated to room temperature. Nb, Tc, Pb, La, V, and Ta are superconductors at liquid helium temperature. Liquid helium is commonly used as a cryogen for superconducting magnets. A rapid evaporation of the cryogen is named Quench. See also Quenching.

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Cryogenic liquids and their associated cold vapors can produce effects on the skin similar to a thermal burn and can cause frostbite. Prolonged breathing of extremely cold gases may damage the lungs and in absence of enough air or oxygen, asphyxiation and death can occur. Unprotected skin can stick to very cold metal (e.g. cooled by liquid helium) and then tear when pulled away.

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Liquid Helium
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Quenching is the cryogen boil off (liquid helium) which is used to cool the superconducting magnet coils of high field MRI systems. This results in a loss of superconductivity in the magnet, in a rapid increase in the resistivity of the magnet, which generates heat that results in further evaporation of the cryogen.

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A quench can cause total magnet failure and should be avoided.

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Cryogenic Liquids and their Hazards
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Superconducting Magnet
Superconducting magnets are electromagnets that are partially built from superconducting materials and therefore reach much higher magnetic field intensity.
The coil windings of superconducting magnets are made of wires of a type 2 superconductor (mostly used is niobium-titanium - up to 15 Tesla the critical temperature is less then 10 Kelvin). These coils have no resistance when operated at temperatures near absolute zero (-273.15°C, -459°F, 0 K).
Liquid helium (4.2 K) is commonly used as a coolant (sometimes in addition with a second cryogen liquid nitrogen as an intermediate thermal shield to reduce the boil-off rate of liquid helium), which consequently conclude refilling (intervals: liquid helium ~ 3 month, liquid nitrogen ~ 2 weeks). There are cryogen-free superconducting magnets with a closed-cycle refrigerating system at the horizon. Superconducting magnets typically exhibit field strengths of greater than 0.5 T, operate clinically up to 3 T, and have a horizontal field orientation, which makes them prone to missile effects without significant magnetic shielding.
See also Quenching.
See also the related poll result: 'In 2010 your scanner will probably work with a field strength of'

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A substance whose electrical resistance essentially disappears at temperatures near absolute zero. A perfect superconductor can carry an electrical current without losses. Nb, Tc, Pb, La, V, and Ta are superconductors at liquid helium temperature. A commonly used superconductor in MRI system magnets is niobium-titanium, embedded in a copper matrix to help protect the superconductor from quenching.

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A step nearer to understanding superconductivity
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