SHINE Medical Technologies is on pace to break ground on its medical radioisotope production facility in Janesville later this summer, CEO Greg Piefer said Wednesday, saying the company is pivoting from project engineering to construction.
During an update to the public Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Express conference center in Janesville, Piefer said SHINE is readying a contract that would guarantee an “agreed maximum cost of construction” for the facility, which will house a particle accelerator used to manufacture molybdenum-99 on the city’s south side.
Piefer said SHINE also is in the midst of setting up a “process insurance” policy to guarantee investors would be paid even if the SHINE facility doesn’t initially reach its baseline capacity.
As construction nears, Piefer said SHINE later this week will start moving particle accelerator prototype equipment into a demonstration facility that SHINE finished building earlier this year.
The demonstration facility is just east of the Southern Wisconsin Regional airport on farmland that’s due south of the city of Janesville parcel where SHINE plans to build its full production factory.
Piefer said the demonstration facility was completed earlier this year “on time and on budget.”
Piefer said the demonstration facility should be operating by September or October. That would allow SHINE to show tangible evidence of its process to investors, he said, around the same time SHINE plans to break ground on its full facility.
“It’s been going well,” Piefer said Wednesday. “But as you might expect, it’s a learning process.”
Late last year, Piefer said SHINE would likely break ground on its production facility sometime in the second quarter of 2018 and likely have the facility in production by mid-2020.
Piefer said Wednesday that SHINE expects the production facility to be in operation by “late 2020” or “early 2021.” That’s largely dependent, he said, on federal nuclear regulatory authorities processing an operating license application the company plans to submit later this year. The Food and Drug Administration also must review the products medical radioisotope distributors would create using SHINE’s moly-99.
Piefer called the late 2020-early 2021 timeline “fairly aggressive” considering the regulatory approvals that are still required.
“But we think that there’s a building here that’s waiting to turn on that’s going to supply isotopes to a lot of people, that will hopefully help drive us to the top of their (regulators’) priority list,” Piefer said.
Piefer said SHINE hopes to make one notable change in the building’s construction plans: The 45,000-square-foot facility could have precast “tip-up” concrete walls. That differs from earlier plans to have the walls poured and built on site.
It would likely be easier to build the 55-foot walls in cold-weather months with precast concrete built inside a factory than to have contractors pour and construct the walls on site in the cold, Piefer said. The building could be erected with tip-up walls in just a few months, he added.
Engineering work continues to ensure that panels of tip-up walls could withstand a potential plane crash considering SHINE’s proximity to the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which already approved SHINE’s construction plans, must approve the planned tip-up walls, Piefer said.
SHINE’s full production factory would be the first fully private particle accelerator facility in the U.S. to produce and process moly-99 for use in medical testing, company officials said.
The material SHINE would make in Janesville would be used to illuminate tissue in thousands of bone and heart imaging tests a day. Moly-99 is now produced almost exclusively overseas, and its availability in the past has been inconsistent because it is made mainly in government reactors that must be shut down occasionally.