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Analysis of Multiple TRIGA-Based Molybdenum Production Reactor Cores Using a New Low-Enriched Uranium Target as Fuel

Andrew J. Hummel, Todd S. Palmer

Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 183 / Number 1 / May 2016 / Pages 149-159

Technical Note /

First Online Publication:March 23, 2016
Updated:May 3, 2016

The most widely used and versatile medical radioisotope today is 99mTc. Roughly 30 million people depend on this radioisotope for diagnostic imaging procedures each year, and this demand is expected to grow. Although there are numerous ways of producing this isotope, the most common is from fission product 99Mo, which is produced in all nuclear reactors fueled with 235U as a fission fragment with a yield of around 6.1%. Molybdenum-99 has a half-life of just over 2.5 days, and it will decay to 99mTc 87% of the time. The Reduced Enrichment for Research Test Reactors program was established at Argonne National Laboratory in 1978 to investigate technology that would aid in converting highly enriched uranium (HEU) facilities to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Since the majority of all 99Mo produced currently comes from the irradiation of HEU fuel targets, there has been a growing effort to design LEU targets that can yield comparable quantities of high specific activity 99Mo. Recently, a novel LEU target design has been developed for use in TRIGA reactors for the production of 99Mo. The simulation tool MCNP5 was used to examine the neutronic behavior of multiple core configurations fueled solely with this new target.

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