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The National MagLab is funded by the National Science Foundation and the State of Florida.


The magnets here at the lab generate massive amounts of heat. To cool them off, we need massive amounts of water. But first, we have to take the ions out.

The powerful electromagnets at the National MagLab need massive amounts of electricity to create the strongest magnetic fields in the world. All of that electricity creates a lot of heat. To cool them off, we pump thousands of gallons of water through the magnet’s coils. But it takes a very special type of water to get the job done: deionized water.

This tutorial shows you how the MagLab makes the deionized water that runs through our resistive magnets.


  1. Compare the incoming water to the outgoing water. What changes when it passes through the resin beads?
  2. Observe what’s happening on the molecular level in the magnified section of the tutorial. Find the ions flowing in with the water molecules.
  3. Watch the negative ions get pulled into the beads that have the opposite charge.
  4. See the water molecules pass through unobstructed.
  5. Reset the tutorial to clear the resin beads and then watch more ions start to accumulate.

We think of the water that comes out of our taps as H20, but there’s more swirling around in there than hydrogen and oxygen atoms. There are also loads of ions - charged particles that the water molecules pick up during its travels through different environments like pipes and soil. Tiny amounts of substances like iron, chlorine, and sodium. Even water that’s been distilled has ions. Those ions are perfectly healthy for us to drink, but all of those positive and negative charges can interfere with the operation of the magnet.

Some of the ions in the water have a positive charge and are called cations. The rest have a negative charge and are called anions. The resin beads also hold a positive or negative charge and attract the ions with the opposite charge. This process leaves the water ion-free and ready to cool off our magnets.

We go through quite a lot of deionized water at the MagLab. Some 400 liters a second are required to keep just one – our 45 tesla hybrid – of our many magnets running at the right temperature. Cool!