PITTSBURGH – September 9, 2015
– Westinghouse Electric Company
and NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes
today announced a Memorandum of Understanding to explore producing medical radioisotopes from the core of commercial nuclear reactors, and methods of global distribution. The exploration involves generating the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging by treating an isotope of the chemical element molybdenum rather than enriched uranium.
“Together, the companies can have a significant impact on the global supply of this essential diagnostic isotope,” said Cindy Pezze, vice president and chief technology officer, Westinghouse.
The effort is to address a global production capacity shortage of the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), as well as a nuclear proliferation concern with current methods, which rely on enriched uranium as source material. Both societal needs will be answered by using the highly reliable, high-volume production capacity of commercial nuclear reactors to make Mo-99 by irradiating molybdenum-98, and would require little capital investment by nuclear plant operators.
“Nuclear plants operate at very high capacity factors, and there are plants around the world that have the capability to produce Mo-99,” Pezze said. “Not only does commercial nuclear power provide reliable electricity without greenhouse gases, it can additionally contribute to society by making important diagnostic isotopes available globally.”
Westinghouse has a patent pending for producing medical radioisotopes using the existing Westinghouse plant design Incore Instrumentation System
. NorthStar has been developing a process for using enriched Mo-98 targets as the starting point for Mo-99 rather than enriched uranium.
Jim Harvey, chief science officer, NorthStar, stated, “This is a tremendous opportunity to further address the chronic shortage of medical isotopes. While we will continue developing alternative processes for Mo-99 production already underway, working with Westinghouse and commercial nuclear reactors will be a game changer, providing NorthStar with considerable medical radioisotope production redundancy and outage reserve capacity, both of which are critical.”
Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation
(TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. The Westinghouse nuclear business supplied the world's first pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa., U.S. Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants.
Based in Madison, Wis., NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC was founded in 2006 to address the needs of the nuclear medicine market in the United States. A wholly owned subsidiary of NorthStar Medical Technologies LLC, the company is committed to resolving industry-wide supply challenges that have caused shortages of vital medical isotopes, negatively impacting patient care and stalling clinical research. Its patented technologies include innovative non-uranium based molybdenum-99 production methods, a novel separation chemistry system and tools for the nuclear medicine market.