The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has issued a cooperative agreement worth $35 million to SHINE Technologies, based in Janesville, Wis., to support the commercial production of molybdenum-99, a critical isotope used in more than 40,000 medical procedures in the United States each day, including the diagnosis of heart disease and cancer.
The award is the third of four agreements to be issued under the NNSA’s July 2020 funding opportunity announcement to foster commercial-scale domestic production of Mo-99 without the use of high-enriched uranium (HEU). The NNSA awarded the first two agreements, worth a total of $37 million, to NorthStar Medical Technologies, of Beloit, Wis., in August. Negotiations for the fourth award are ongoing, the NNSA said.
The NNSA funding is intended to support the production of at least 1,500 six-day curies of Mo-99 per week by December 31, 2023, and the capacity to increase production to 3,000 six-day curies per week.
She said it: “This cooperative agreement is a triple win for the United States,” said Jill Hruby, DOE undersecretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator. “NNSA’s continued partnership with SHINE will help ensure that doctors and patients get the medical isotopes they need, that those isotopes are produced without the use of proliferation-sensitive HEU, and that the work gets done here in the United States.”
Background: In 2012, Congress directed the NNSA to establish a program to support the development of commercial domestic production of Mo-99 without the use of HEU. NNSA implements this requirement through its Mo-99 program, managed by the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, which works globally to prevent state and non-state actors from developing nuclear weapons or acquiring weapons-usable nuclear or radiological materials, equipment, technology, and expertise.
The Mo-99 program works cooperatively with U.S. industry partners, securing agreements to share the cost of establishing domestic Mo-99 production without the use of HEU and providing funds to the DOE’s national laboratories in support of those efforts. The NNSA program had previously provided cost-shared cooperative agreements to SHINE and NorthStar, as well as to Niowave, of Lansing, Mich., and Northwest Medical Isotopes, of Corvallis, Ore.