The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has issued a cooperative agreement worth $13 million to Niowave, of Lansing, Mich., 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.
This is the fourth and final agreement 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. Earlier this year, the NNSA awarded two agreements worth a total of $37 million to NorthStar Medical Technologies and one agreement worth $35 million to SHINE Technologies. Both companies are based in south-central Wisconsin.
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 will enable Niowave to scale up their innovative Mo-99 production technology and bring it to market,” said Jill Hruby, the DOE’s undersecretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator. “Today’s award is another step toward establishing a diverse and resilient production base here in the United States for this important medical isotope.”
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 has worked 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.