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Innovation Stories: Magritek

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A Wellington company is helping to unlock secrets held deep within the Earth. Magritek's nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology has been used everywhere from Antarctica to major oil fields and even in a chocolate factory.

While not everyone knows about the physics of NMR, many people will have come across its application in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices used in hospitals. These devices provide high-resolution images of the structure of the human body for diagnostic purposes. What Magritek is doing is taking the MRI out of the hospital and taking it into surprising new places.

Magritek created the world's only MRI teaching device, Terranova-MRI. This is an affordable 'lab in a box' that can go to places that bulkier MRI machines cannot. It was first developed for a research trip to Antarctica. After that trip, Magritek realised that a robust, portable MRI device would be useful to look inside items such as rocks, living plants and foods.

Meanwhile, Magritek's newest tool, the Rock Core Analyzer, is helping the oil and gas industry. Contrary to popular perception, oil fields are not large pools of easily accessible liquid - rather, the oil is stored in the pores of rocks. The Rock Core Analyzer helps the oil industry to understand how liquid moves in and out of those pores, and this ultimately enables more oil to be extracted.

Helmed by 2011 New Zealander of the Year Professor Paul Callaghan and harnessing talent from Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington, Magritek is using this amazing technology to develop more MRI products for customers all over the world.

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