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Medical Isotope Production without Highly Enriched Uranium
The National Academies will conduct a study and provide findings and recommendations to DOE on the production of medical isotopes without HEU. As mandated by Congress in Section 630 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the study will determine the following:
The feasibility of procuring supplies of medical isotopes from commercial sources that do not use HEU, using the definition of feasibility defined in Section 630 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The current and projected demand and availability of medical isotopes in regular current domestic use.
The progress that is being made by DOE and others to eliminate all use of HEU in reactor fuel, reactor targets, and medical isotope production facilities.
The potential cost differential in medical isotope production in the reactors and target processing facilities if the products were derived from production systems that do not involve fuels and targets with HEU.
If the National Academies determine that the procurement of medical isotopes from commercial sources is not feasible as defined in Section 630 of the Energy Policy Act, it should estimate the magnitude of the cost differential and identify additional steps that could be taken by DOE and medical isotope producers to improve the feasibility of such conversions. In estimating the magnitude of cost differentials, consideration should be given to facilities utilized by both large and small producers. The National Academies should also identify any reliability of supply issues that could arise as a result of such conversions.
With respect to the first charge, Congress established three tests for feasibility:
LEU targets have been developed and demonstrated for use in the reactors and target processing facilities that produce significant quantities of medical isotopes to serve U.S. needs for such isotopes;
Sufficient quantities of medical isotopes are available from LEU targets and fuel to meet U.S. needs; and
The average anticipated total cost increase from production of medical isotopes in such facilities without the use of HEU is less than 10 percent.
Nuclear Technology Products (NTP) Radioisotopes extracts Mo-99 from targets irradiated in a reactor near Pelindaba, South Africa.
Approximately 40–50 kg of HEU are used annually for medical isotope production (NNSA and ANSTO, 20076), including annual U.S. exports of
This is a report from a conference that involved almost all of the Mo-99 production community. The report was produced by a working group during the conference.