DOE breaks ground on isotope production center at Oak Ridge

October 26, 2022, 12:20PMNuclear News
Secretary Granholm, center, leads breaking the ground for the SIPRC at ORNL, along with (from left) ORNL site manager Johnny Moore, ORNL director Thomas Zacharia; DOE undersecretary for science and innovation Geraldine Richmond; and DOE Office of Science director Asmeret Asefaw Berhe. (Photo: Genevieve Martin/ORNL/DOE)

The Department of Energy held a groundbreaking ceremony on October 24 for the Stable Isotope Production and Research Center (SIPRC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The center is being built to expand the nation’s capability to enrich stable isotopes for medical, industrial, and research applications.

The DOE also announced $75 million to support SIPRC with funding provided through the Inflation Reduction Act, which delivered $1.55 billion in fiscal year 2022 to the DOE’s Office of Science to accelerate national laboratory infrastructure projects.

The need: To help meet the current and anticipated demand for isotopes and address gaps in America’s supply chains, the SIPRC will provide the DOE with multiple production systems that can enrich a wide range of stable isotopes, according to the DOE. The 64,000-square-foot building will house two types of isotope separation equipment and will include space to add additional systems and expand the building footprint in the future as demand increases.

The SIPRC will be a new facility under the DOE Isotope Program, which produces and sells isotopes that are in short supply or simply not available otherwise. According to the DOE, the research conducted at the SIPRC supports the program’s work to develop advanced manufacturing techniques and novel isotope separations to build out a reliable domestic supply chain, enabling emerging technologies and ensuring the United States is at the global forefront of isotope development and production.

She said it: “Isotopes are so essential to helping diagnose and treat diseases like cancer and for identifying nuclear threats,” said secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm. “With support from the president’s Inflation Reduction Act, the world-class Stable Isotope Production and Research Center will help establish a reliable domestic supply of isotopes critical to the health and safety of Americans in every corner of the nation.”


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