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Report Explores Alternatives to Nuclear Reactors for Medical Isotopes

11 November 2008

The Task Force on Alternatives for Medical-Isotope Production today released its final report in prepublication form at URL Task Force was convened by TRIUMF, the University of British Columbia, and Advanced Applied Physics Solution, Inc., with support from Natural Resources Canada.

The Task Force examined accelerator-based methods for producing Molybdenum-99, the chief medical isotope used around the world in about 40 million procedures each year. The Task Force looked closely at a technology using accelerator-driven photo-fission with natural uranium that is based on an emerging core competency at TRIUMF in superconducting radiofrequency accelerators.

The Task Force concluded that the photo-fission accelerator technology was attractive, quite feasible, and compared quite well to the present-day technology based on nuclear reactors using highly enriched uranium fuel and targets. Additional R&D and a laboratory proof-of-principle demonstration is required for full validation.

The technology is so compelling that the Task Force recommended that a steering group of public and private partners be formed to oversee the next steps. The Government of Canada should favourably consider a proposal for partial public support of such a steering group. Performers of individual work packages might also seek public support and would necessarily undergo the usual competitive scientific peer review at the relevant agencies.

Photo Credit: MDS Nordion