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Moly 99 reactor using Sandia design could lead to US supply of isotope to track disease
Date:6/16/2014

ar market," Wagner said. "There are 30 million diagnostic procedures done worldwide each year, and 80 percent use technetium-99m. More than 50 percent of the procedures are done in the United States, and 60 percent of those are cardiac-related. This issue is very important to U.S. health care because there is no domestic production supplier on U.S. soil."

Unreliable reactors cause moly shortages

The world's five primary moly 99 production reactors are often closed for repairs, causing periodic shortages that can last months, Wagner said. Two of the largest could either stop producing moly 99 or be decommissioned in the next 10 years. "They represent more than 60 percent of the global supply," Wagner said. "There is a new reactor due in France, but even if the two go offline and new replacement capacity comes on, Eden still predicts a 20 to 30 percent global shortage to meet today's demand, and greater future shortages as demand rises."

A search has been on for a number of years for a way to make moly 99 in the United States without using weapon-grade uranium. Several companies have explored new kinds of reactors and different methods to produce the isotope but none are in commercial production. "Eden would be the first reactor in the U.S. specific for medical isotope production," Wagner said. "We feel that science wise, this has the most potential for success in the market."

Dick Coats, Eden's chief technology officer, is a retired Sandia Labs researcher who helped develop the moly 99 reactor concept in the 1990s. Based on technology developed in the Department of Energy-funded Sandia medical isotope production program of that era, the team created a reactor concept tailored to the business of producing moly 99. "This reactor is very small, less than 2 megawatts in power, about a foot-and-a-half in diameter and about the same height, but very efficient," Coats said.

The reactor sits in a pool of cooling water 28 to
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Contact: Nancy Salem
mnsalem@sandia.gov
505-844-2739
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories
Source:Eurekalert

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