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Luvata wins $6.5 million contract from CEA Saclay

(11 February 2010): Luvata, the global metals-manufacturing and technology company, has won a $6.5 million contract to supply highly specialized superconducting wire to drive the world’s most powerful whole-body MRI system.  The contract, awarded by the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA) Saclay will play a key role in the development of the CEA Iseult project to construct the MRI unit, which it is hoped will advance medical diagnostics and treatments. The contract provides options for additional materials, which may be purchased at a later date for a combined value of over $10 million.

As the sole superconducting wire supplier to the project, Luvata Waterbury will deliver two types of superconductor including 158 km of cable-in-channel for the main coils and 60 km of wire-in-channel for the shield coils.   Both will operate at 1.8 degrees above absolute zero, which is 2.4 degrees below the boiling point of liquid helium, the norm for clinical MRI machines.  The field strength of the magnet will be 11.75 Tesla in comparison to clinical units offering a range from 1 to 3 Tesla.

Franck Lethimonnier, Iseult Project Manager, CEA Saclay states: “This incredibly powerful 11.75 Tesla whole-body MRI system will allow us to see body tissue structures with a clarity that has never been possible before due to technological limitations and reveal details that are currently invisible at lower magnetic fields. Ultimately, after a large R&D effort by CEA and industrial partners, this MRI should provide earlier detection of and treatment for diseases currently undetectable with today’s clinical MRI units and we hope will be a platform for a range of medical and treatment advances in the years to come.”

The aim of the Iseult programme is to develop new diagnostic tools for neurogenerative diseases, by means of innovative molecular imaging techniques based on the use of magnetic high fields. The magnetic field at the heart of the MRI unit is generated by nearly 70 tonnes of superconducting coils. The main winding is made from several hundred kilometres of niobium titanium superconductor wound onto double pancake coils with a current of 1500 A flowing through it.

Luvata will supply highly specialized superconducting wire at the core of the powerful MRI scanner, using its global expertise within superconductors which has already seen it develop superconductor to drive the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the fusion energy research project KSTAR in Korea and for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project.

Dr. Hem Kanithi, Vice-President Business Development with Luvata Waterbury comments: “Luvata is very excited about our role within the Iseult programme which applies some of the knowledge gained from the superconductor projects we have developed for CERN, KSTAR and ITER to a new area of medical technology which we hope will drive forward cutting edge developments in healthcare.”

Luvata is a recognized leader in the supply of superconducting wire for medical diagnostic systems, high energy physics projects, and related applications where quality, delivery and performance are critical.





In May 2017, the Special Products division of Luvata was acquired by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation.


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