Initial building completed at US isotope facility

14 February 2018

Shine Medical Technologies has completed construction and taken occupancy of Building One at its medical isotope production facility in Janesville, Wisconsin. Construction of the main production facility is to begin soon.

SHINE Building One - 460 (SHINE)
Building One at Shine's Janesville facility (Image: Shine)

Ground was broken for Building One in August last year. Shine said the building will be "one of the most advanced, private, nuclear technology facilities in the world".

Installation of equipment within Building One is now starting and the facility will initially be used to house the first fully-integrated, full-size Shine production system. During construction of Shine's main production facility, Building One will be used to train employees and develop operating experience with equipment. In future, Building One will be a state-of-the-art technology development centre, Shine said.

Greg Piefer, founder and CEO of Shine, said: "Building One's name was chosen because it's intended to be a technological genesis building. It will be a laboratory in which we continue to develop new technologies to keep Shine at the forefront of medical isotope production and nuclear innovations beyond that."

Shine said completion of Building One comes as the company prepares to break ground on its main production facility. The facility will produce medically important isotopes, including molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), using an accelerator-driven subcritical assembly - not a nuclear reactor - to irradiate a low-enriched uranium target solution.

Shine submitted its construction licence application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2013. In October 2015, following an independent review of Shine's preliminary safety analysis report, the NRC's advisory committee on reactor safeguards recommended that a construction permit should be issued. In February 2016, the NRC authorized its staff to issue a construction permit for the facility. The permit was the first issued by the NRC for a non-power utilization or production facility since 1985.

Molybdenum-99 is the precursor of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely used isotope in nuclear medicine. With a half-life of only 66 hours, Mo-99 cannot be stockpiled, and security of supply is a key concern. Most Mo-99 is currently produced from highly-enriched uranium (HEU) targets, which are themselves seen as a potential nuclear proliferation risk.

There has been no commercial production of the isotope in the USA since 1989. Since 2009 the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration has been working in partnership with US commercial entities to accelerate the development of technologies to produce the radioisotope domestically without using HEU.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News