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Research Papers: Design Innovation Papers

Design of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Compatible Metallic Pressure Vessel

[+] Author and Article Information
Matthew Ouellette

MRI Research Centre,
Department of Physics,
Mechanical Engineering Department,
University of New Brunswick,
Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5A3, Canada

Rodney MacGregor

MRI Research Centre,
Department of Physics,
University of New Brunswick,
Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5A3, Canada

Marwan Hassan

Mechanical Engineering Department,
University of New Brunswick,
Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5A3, Canada

Bruce J. Balcom

MRI Research Centre,
Department of Physics,
University of New Brunswick,
Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 5A3, Canada
e-mail: bjb@unb.ca

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Pressure Vessel and Piping Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Pressure Vessel Technology. Manuscript received March 27, 2012; final manuscript received February 4, 2013; published online June 11, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Allen C. Smith.

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 135(4), 045001 (Jun 11, 2013) (7 pages) Paper No: PVT-12-1034; doi: 10.1115/1.4023728 History: Received March 27, 2012; Revised February 04, 2013

High-pressure measurements in most scientific fields rely on metal vessels, a consequence of the superior tensile strength of metals. Magnetic resonance imaging in conjunction with metallic pressure vessels has recently been introduced. Magnetic resonance imaging with compatible metallic pressure vessels is a very general concept. This paper outlines the specifics of the development and design of these vessels. Metallic pressure vessels not only provide inherently high tensile strengths and efficient temperature control, they also permit optimization of the radio-frequency probe sensitivity. The design and application of magnetic resonance imaging compatible pressure vessels is illustrated through a rock core holder fabricated using nonmagnetic stainless steel. Water flooding through a porous rock at elevated pressure and temperature is shown as an example of its applications. High-pressure magnetic resonance plays an indispensable role in several scientific fields; this work will open new avenues of investigation for high-pressure material science magnetic resonance imaging.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

MRI-compatible pressure vessels. (a) Cross-sectional longitudinal view of cylindrical MRI compatible metallic pressure vessel. The RF probe is contained inside the vessel. (b) MRI compatible nonmetallic pressure vessel. The RF probe is outside of the vessel.

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Fig. 2

MRI-compatible metallic core holder. (a) Cross-sectional diagram of a metallic core holder embodying the principles of Fig. 1(a) for the study of rock core samples. (b) Photo of RF probe construction. The RF probe is a 16-rung birdcage coil. This assembly is sealed with epoxy and placed in another annular cylinder. (c) Photo of MRI-compatible core holder fabricated from Nitronic 60 stainless steel. The core plug sample, bottom, is held by heat shrink tubing and an Aflas sleeve to make a connection to the inlet and outlet flow pipe, second from bottom. The encapsulated sample is positioned inside the RF probe. The entire assembly goes into the vessel, top. The vessel is sealed at the ends by o-rings.

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Fig. 3

Exploring the background signal problem. (a) 1D transverse profiles of a core flooding experiment where water floods the rock from the left to right in the image. It can be seen that the background signal is of the same order of magnitude as the sample. (b) 2D transverse image of a saturated rock sample in the first version core holder, with severe background signal. (c) 2D transverse image of a saturated rock sample in the new version core holder with more suitable material selections to minimize background signal. The ratio of signal from a water saturated rock sample to background signal was measured and increased from a ratio of approximately 1:1 to 35:1 in the old versus new version.

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Fig. 4

Sealing mechanisms for pressure vessels. (a) Pressure vessel sealing schematic. A large diameter bolt circle holds a cap using a face-sealing o-ring. An effective solution but not space efficient. (b) Piston style sealing used for the metallic core holder. This design requires less diametrical clearance for the same size sample relative to the design of (a).

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Fig. 5

MRI images of water flooding a Berea sandstone core sample in the steel core holder under moderate pressure and temperature. Water migrated through the dry rock from right to left. 2D longitudinal images were acquired at intervals of 43 s. The rock, 25 mm in diameter and 75 mm in length, saturated in 40 min. (a) Nine of the 2D images, at intervals of 3.6 min acquired during water penetration. (b) 1D profiles extracted from the centerline of the 2D images at intervals of 3.6 min. Note the progression of the wetting front through the porous sample and also the increased image intensity as a function of time behind the wetting front.

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