MEP/FP design for MRI suites, part one: mechanical considerations

In a two-part series, the importance of effective mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems design for magnetic resonance imaging suites is examined. Part one focuses on mechanical considerations.

02/06/2017


In a two-part series, the importance of effective mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems design for magnetic resonance imaging suites is examined. Courtesy: Joel FilipeWithin a hospital, needs vary significantly by department and specialty treatment area. RTM Engineering Consultants understands each area's unique specifications and requirements involving mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection (MEP/FP) systems. Our expert team of engineers has designed and created engineering solutions for more than 75 health care clients and understands the complexity of this sector. 

MRI equipment is sensitive to temperature, humidity, and air pressure; therefore, mechanical systems must meet the technical requirements of the equipment while ensuring a safe and protected environment for the patients and health care staff within the facility. "Effective MEP design ensures that medical professionals can focus on their first priority-delivering high-quality patient care," said RTM Principal Tim Larson, PE.

Temperature and humidity

Proper temperature is vital for system operation, and MRI suites must have sufficient HVAC systems to regulate the temperature to the equipment vendor's recommendations. To properly regulate the computer room, supplemental cooling may be necessary depending on the limitations of the base building systems.

"Due to the complexity of these systems, it is critical to involve HVAC experts," noted Larson.

Similar to temperature, monitoring and regulating humidity is very important. Humidification or dehumidification may be necessary to keep the magnet-room and computer-room electronics within their tolerance levels based on vendor or manufacturer requirements. The HVAC system will be analyzed and tailored to meet the equipment's needs for new or existing facilities.

Emergency exhaust

MRI scanners use cryogen, usually liquid helium, to cool the magnet efficiently and reduce the power needed to operate it. Dedicated emergency exhaust systems are designed to protect an MRI suite in case of cryogen discharge. In the event of an emergency shutdown of the magnet (a quench) and the loss of superconductivity, cryogens escape quickly and pose an immediate safety risk. Cryogen leaks can result in injury, entrapment, and asphyxiation. Emergency systems activate automatically or when an alarm or sensor is turned on, and cryogen vents quickly discharge gases from the building.

Cryogen venting was an important design consideration when RTM partnered with the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Science Division to install a new 3.0T MRI scanner in its radiology department.

"The University of Chicago MRI project required meticulous calculations to guarantee patient and staff safety," said RTM Project Manager Matt Zega, PE. "The installation involved significant building renovations, and we oversaw the process to ensure each element of the MRI suite-from shielding to emergency systems-met safety specifications."

Air change & pressurization

To reduce the amount of dust the equipment is exposed to, all spaces should have positive air pressure unless adjoining areas have different requirements. All MRI spaces need a minimum number of air changes per hour. Air-change rate (ACR) criteria should be reviewed for every facility based on adopted national, state, and local codes. 


-This article originally appeared on the RTM Engineering Consultants blog. RTM Engineering Consultants is a CFE Media content partner.



Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
How to use IPD; 2017 Commissioning Giants; CFDs and harmonic mitigation; Eight steps to determine plumbing system requirements
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me