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Hardcore Recycling: Using Old MRI Magnets in a Physics Lab

Illustration for article titled Hardcore Recycling: Using Old MRI Magnets in a Physics Lab

When magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners reach the end of their lifetime, hospitals have to deal with a large piece of electronic waste, stuffed with potentially dangerous parts. Unless a physics lab can make use of them.


In the photo above you can see an old MRI magnet, one of the most valuable part of a discarded medical device. But this one won’t end up in a landfill, but find a new home in instruments used in high-energy and nuclear physics experiments. Argonne National Laboratory explains what will happen:

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory recently acquired two decommissioned magnets from (MRI) scanners from hospitals in Minnesota and California. The two new magnets have a strength of 4 Tesla, not as strong as the newest generation of MRI magnets but ideal for benchmarking experiments that test instruments for the g minus 2 (“g-2”) muon experiment currently being assembled at the DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. The Muon g-2 experiment will use Fermilab’s powerful accelerators to explore the interactions of muons, which are short-lived particles, with a strong magnetic field in “empty” space.


[Mark Lopez/Argonne National Laboratory]

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Where can I get one of these? I have some pranks I want to perpetrate.

Like, during the middle of dinner, I’ll hit a remote control button to turn on the magnet and it’ll pull all the silverware out of peoples hands and off the table. And also rip out all their fillings, metal plates, and whatnot. Hilarious!