NorthStar marks milestone in non-uranium production of Mo-99

January 12, 2023, 12:02PMNuclear News
IBA Rhodotron TT300-HE (high energy) electron accelerator. (Photo: Business Wire)

Nuclear medicine company NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes announced that it has successfully produced molybdenum-99 at its recently completed accelerator production facility at its Beloit, Wis., campus. According to NorthStar, the event marks a major milestone in advancing the company’s proprietary electron accelerator technology for the non-uranium–based production of the critical medical radioisotope.

Nuclear medicine company NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes announced that it has successfully produced molybdenum-99 at its recently completed accelerator production facility at its Beloit, Wis., campus. According to NorthStar, the event marks a major milestone in advancing the company’s proprietary electron accelerator technology for the non-uranium–based production of the critical medical radioisotope.

Mo-99 is the parent radioisotope of technetium-99m, the most widely used diagnostic imaging radioisotope, needed for more than 40,000 procedures in the United States daily.

The technology: NorthStar’s “two beams on target” accelerator approach is based on the irradiation of Mo-100 targets with two electron beams rather than the currently used single-beam approach used for the production of many other isotopes, the company said.

Dual electron beam accelerator production is one of the most efficient methods of making Mo-99 and can also be used to produce therapeutic radioisotopes such as copper-67 and non-carrier-added actinium-225,” said James Harvey, senior vice president and chief science officer of NorthStar. It enables increased Mo-99 production capability, greater scheduling flexibility, and results in a benign and easily managed waste stream.”

Increased capacity: According to NorthStar, the technology has the potential to nearly double the company’s commercial-scale Mo-99 capability with a single target set and augments its ongoing domestic Mo-99 production done in collaboration with the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR). The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration provided financial and technical support for the project as part of its program to increase U.S. production of Mo-99 without the use of high-enriched uranium, which is a proliferation-sensitive material.

In 2018, NorthStar became the first U.S. company in nearly 30 years to produce Mo-99 domestically by irradiating and processing Mo-98 targets at MURR with neutron capture technology.

He said it: “Once our newly completed accelerator production facility is licensed and operational, NorthStar will have sufficient total production capability to meet nearly 40 percent of U.S. demand for Mo-99,” said Frank Scholz, president and chief operating officer of NorthStar. This is particularly important given that the historically fragile overseas Mo-99 supply chain remains fraught with shortages, as recently as this past November, underscoring the continued need for domestic, reliable, non-uraniumbased Mo-99 supply for the United States.


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