MRIs get revved up

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

MRIs are sta­ples in hos­pi­tals around the coun­try, ex­tremely use­ful in see­ing in­ter­nal struc­tures in de­tail, such as soft tis­sues and or­gans.

Now, me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neers are us­ing MRI technology to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of jet en­gines. In just a few hours, an MRI can col­lect a wealth of 3-D data on the mix­ing of hot com­bus­tion and cool­ing gases in jet tur­bines. Com­pa­ra­bly, con­ven­tional meth­ods of mea­sur­ing jet en­gine per­for­mance can take two or more years, says Army Lt. Col. Michael Ben­son, a Ph.D. stu­dent in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity who is us­ing MRI technology in his re­search.

“I know one Ph.D. stu­dent who spent three years col­lect­ing this type of data,” Ben­son says. With help from a re­search-grade MRI ma­chine, Ben­son is at­tempt­ing to find a bet­ter bal­ance be­tween the hot com­bus­tion nec­es­sary to make jet en­gines run and the cool gases that keep the en­gine blades from melt­ing.

Two other Stan­ford re­searchers pi­o­neered the use of MRI ma­chines to gather this type of data, study­ing co­ral colonies and tur­bine blades. MRIs could be use­ful in puz­zling out other fluid mix­ing prob­lems, such as oil drilling, Ben­son says.

MRIs plumb the mys­ter­ies of jets.

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