Canadians examine alternatives for global isotope supply

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Image Source: Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique

Global medical isotope and radiopharmaceutical provider MDS Nordion and TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, are partnering to study the feasibility of producing a viable and reliable supply of photo-fission produced molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) using linear accelerators rather than nuclear reactors.

MDS and TRIUMF said that they will also collaborate to develop a commercialization plan, which will include an operational plan, business model and time lines.

Medical isotopes produced using photo-fission produced Mo-99 use a linear accelerator, which eliminates the need to ship and handle highly enriched uranium in favor of the naturally occurring uranium. Currently, 95 percent of the world's supply of technetium-99m (created from Mo-99) is produced by only five research nuclear reactors.

"This method also provides a potential alternate solution through which to supply the production capacity of Mo-99, and lessen the reliance on existing nuclear research reactors," according to the two organizations.

The collaboration follows a recent meeting supported by the United Nations, for which experts and nuclear reactor operators convened to discuss isotope shortages, fuel risks and possible alternatives.