SHINE supplier wins contract

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Jim Leute
Thursday, February 27, 2014

MADISON—A critical supplier to SHINE Medical Technologies has landed its first commercial contract, a project that will improve its financial picture and position itself even better to supply other commercial customers.

Phoenix Nuclear Labs said Tuesday it would build a neutron generation system for Ultra Electronics, a British defense, security, transport and energy company with strong ties to nuclear power generation.

Phoenix has developed a proprietary, particle accelerator-driven, nuclear fusion technology that has applications ranging from medicine to national defense.

The company, founded in 2005 by Greg Piefer, is focused on commercializing its core technology for applications such as neutron radiography imaging for the evaluation and quality control of military and aerospace components, medical isotope production and the detection of explosive devices.

Piefer started Phoenix after completing his doctorate in nuclear engineering at UW-Madison. He still serves on the Phoenix board of directors.

In 2010, Piefer founded SHINE Medical Technologies, which is working toward regulatory approval to build an $85 million medical isotope plant on Janesville's south side.

The plant would use low-enriched uranium in a series of eight accelerators to produce molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in more than 30 kinds of diagnostic imaging procedures and more than 40 million medical imaging tests each year.

The company wants to fill a void expected when two other nuclear reactors that use highly enriched uranium to produce isotopes are taken out of service in 2016 and 2020. The plants in Canada and the Netherlands are the world's leading isotope suppliers.

The Janesville plant is expected to offer 150 high-paying jobs, open in late 2016 and generate annual revenues of $200 million in 2017.

Phoenix has already delivered two demonstration neutron generator systems. One went to the U.S. Army in New Jersey for the nondestructive evaluation and quality assurance of manufactured munitions.

The other went to SHINE for medical isotope production.

Evan Sengbusch, vice president of business development for Phoenix, said those two customers represent a sizable market for his company.

The company's contract with Ultra will combine with a recent round of private equity funding that raised more than $1 million to support additional hires and further build-out of the company's manufacturing infrastructure, he said.

Sengbusch said the financing would help Phoenix prepare for a facility larger than its current operation in Middleton.

Piefer said he's encouraged his Phoenix colleagues to look at Janesville as they move from research and development into commercial production. No location decisions have been made, he said.

SHINE learned in December that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review the second half of the company's application to build its plant in Janesville.

The federal agency will spend the nine months or so technically reviewing the document.

Last updated: 7:47 am Friday, February 28, 2014

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