The radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) is a source for the commonly used radiomarker technetium-99m applicable in cancer diagnostics and life science research, but it’s in short supply and there are no American manufacturers of the material. Producing Mo-99 typically involves bombarding highly enriched uranium (U-235) with an intense beam of neutrons, which normally means you’ll need a nuclear reactor and have to answer to authorities that deter nuclear weapon proliferation to make the stuff. Last year the Canadian government gave $15 million to the Canadian Light Source, a 2.9 GeV synchrotron facility, to develop a method of using X-rays to manufacture molybdenum-99.
Following up on their own $4.6 million investment last year in NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes to do the same, America’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has partnered with the Morgridge Institute for Research at the University of Wisconsin to build an $85 million facility that will use an accelerator to generate Mo-99.
Government Security News reports:
Morgridge officials said the funding would support a dozen institute employees focusing on technical aspects of the project while SHINE Medical Technologies will serve as the primary subcontractor and use the balance to develop an $85 million plant capable of producing Mo-99
The cooperative agreement between NNSA and Morgridge, totals $20.6 million and is funded under an equal cost-share arrangement. It will accelerate development of Morgridge’s Mo-99 production technology without using HEU, said the agency. In addition to aligning with domestic and international nonproliferation commitments, the Mo-99 produced by Morgridge would also support the goal of ensuring a reliable domestic supply of this critical medical radioisotope for U.S. patients, it said.
Government Security News: Nuclear security agency signs another non-HEU medical isotope production agreement…
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