SHINE hits milestone in Moly-99 production tests
LEMONT, ILLINOIS—Tests at a government laboratory in Illinois show that a process SHINE Medical Technologies would use at its proposed Janesville facility is successful at producing radioactive Mo-99 isotopes for medical use, the Monona-based company announced Monday.
In a series of tests conducted at Argonne National Laboratories, researchers used a small-scale model that researchers say mirrors an Mo-99 production process SHINE has developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
The tests used a particle accelerator at Argonne to target a liquid, low-enriched uranium solution SHINE has developed.
Argonne, which is run through the U.S. Department of Energy, confirmed in a news release Monday that its tests show SHINEs process is capable of producing, separating and purifying Mo-99 radioisotopes that match those now used to light up heart and bone tissue in medical imaging tests.
Argonne said the test results mark a major milestone as the Department of Energy works to secure a stable, domestic source of Mo-99 in the face of a potential global shortage.
The Canadian government plans later this year to phase out an aging, large-scale nuclear reactor that uses heavily enriched uranium to produce the bulk of Mo-99 now available in the U.S. and abroad.
Mo-99 is used in 50,000 medical tests a day in the U.S. alone, officials estimate.
Katrina Pitas, a spokeswoman for SHINE, said tests at Argonne rolled out over the last several months and are ongoing.
Pitas said previous testing at another government laboratory in Los Alomos, New Mexico, showed SHINE's process captures nearly all the Mo-99 it produces from its target solution, and that the solution is re-usable.
But the latest tests at Argonne, which federal researchers and SHINE are calling “Mini-SHINE,” show a tip-to-tail demonstration of the full production process SHINE would use in Janesville, including purification of Mo-99 to match medical industry standards, Pitas said.
SHINE doesn't yet have a federal operating permit required to link its accelerators with other production equipment the company is building at its Monona headquarters.
News SHINE's process is successful comes as project plans for SHINE's proposed Janesville facility are in latter stages of review by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The commission is expected to issue a decision on a building permit for the facility late this year or early next year, and the facility could be in operation by mid-2018, pending an operating permit, NRC officials say.