Israel in-development accelerator may be a new source of radioisotopes

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Israel unveiled a completed section of its particle accelerator that is still under construction and slated to begin operations within the next 10 years.

Geneva's Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest accelerator that was unveiled last month, and is intended to help researchers learn more about the origins of the universe.

Although Israel's 30-meter-long particle accelerator, called the Sorek Applied Research Accelerator Facility (SARAF), is also intended for civilian research—it will create radioactive isotopes for medical purposes, said the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, which footed most of the NIS 200 million ($52.7 million U.S.) for the machine.

One of the substances the accelerator is slated to produce is palladium-103, a radioactive isotope that can be used to treat prostate cancer.

The accelerator is located next to the nuclear research center in Nahal Sorek, and might eventually replace the nuclear reactor after scientists begin using it, though at the moment the plan is for both facilities to operate concurrently,” said Israel Mardor, the commission official responsible for the accelerator project.

One of SARAF's components is a neutron-production facility based on liquid lithium. The neutrons can be used for medical purposes, to identify bone fractures and breaks, or to locate fissures in aircraft and other machines.

The accelerator, which is being planned and manufactured by Bergisch Gladbach, German-based research instruments company Accel, is inside a reinforced building constructed for the purpose.