The Department of Energy Isotope Program and QSA Global, a Burlington, Mass.–based manufacturer of sealed radioisotope sources, agreed to a joint product development project to initiate domestic production of iridium-192, which is used in industrial gamma ray radiography.
According to the DOE, the United States has been dependent on supply from foreign countries for this critical radioisotope for the last 20 years, since the department exited the market. This agreement will lead to the reestablishment of domestic Ir-192 production, thereby mitigating U.S. dependence on foreign sources.
Under the agreement, announced November 8, Oak Ridge National Laboratory will collaborate with QSA Global to finalize a reactor target design and prepare associated packaging and transportation procedures for shipment of targets back to QSA. The goal of the QSA and the Isotope Program, which is managed through the DOE’s Office of Science, is to begin routine irradiations with new product for high-priority domestic applications in 2024.
The isotope: Ir-192 serves as a gamma source essential for industrial radiographic nondestructive testing to detect structural damage to metal parts such as castings, forgings, and weld defects. Industrial gamma radiography plays a role in ensuring the quality of manufacturing processes, particularly in sectors such as shipbuilding, auto manufacturing, and aerospace. Additionally, it is instrumental in performing on-site integrity assessments of oil and gas pipelines.
They said it: “Part of the mission of the DOE Isotope Program is to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign supply. We are extremely pleased to work with QSA Global Inc. to reestablish a U.S. supply of this critical radioisotope to promote stability to an otherwise fragile supply chain,” said Jehanne Gillo, director of the DOE Isotope Program.
Jake Bourn, vice president and general manager of QSA Global, added, “We appreciate our long-term, reliable supply of isotopes from the DOE Isotope Program and look forward to adding Ir-192 to the list.”