Manufacture medical isotopes with extreme energy densities

With this main module of ELBE, electrons can be accelerated to almost the speed of light. In SMART experiments, particles produce “bremsstrahlung”. It knocks out one neutron each from the molybdenum nucleus, leaving the radioisotope Mo-99. Credits: HZDR / Jürgen Jeibmann

Molybdenum (Mo-99) plays an important role in the diagnosis of cancer and other illnesses. After a few hours, the radioisotope decays to produce technetium-99m. It is used in the image processing procedures required to inspect millions of people around the world each year. Today’s fission-based processes face many challenges, including the aging of nuclear reactors and the environmental impact of the processes. Therefore, researchers are looking for alternative production methods. At Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the European SMART collaboration has successfully tested the production of the Mo-99 with the help of the superconducting linear accelerator ELBE.

“We drove ELBE to the limit and fired a 30-kilowatt beam of high-energy electrons at a molybdenum millimeter-sized target non-stop for almost a week,” said Professor Peter Michel, head of ELBE. I will explain. At HZDR’s Institute of Radiation Physics.

“This means that a total of 13 gigajoules of energy can be stored in small quantities. Physical energy Fully equipped Boeing 747-400 flying at a top speed of about 900 km / h

Such extreme energy densities are necessary to trigger the desired reaction. “The bremsstrahlung produced at the target knocks out one neutron from each nucleus, and the final remaining is the target product, molybdenum-99.”

HZDR provided the necessary accelerator technology, but the Dutch technology company Demcon was responsible for setting up the experiment. The Belgian Radio Element Institute (IRE), one of the world’s largest producers of Mo-99, has launched SMART (the source of MedicAl RadioisoTopes) in collaboration with the Dutch company ASML and with science and industry partners. We are working together to develop the technology.

“The ELBE Accelerator is the only laboratory-friendly research facility in Europe because the quality of the beam is stable over several days,” said Johannes Job, senior system engineer at Mechatronics. The strike states. At Demcon.

“But the decisive factor for our success was a very good and reliable collaboration between our partners. In the case of ELBE, not only our unique technology, but also the scientific expertise and dedication of the ELBE team. I also received a great deal of benefits from. “

Complex experimental equipment: cooling with liquid sodium

according to Extreme conditionsThe experiment poses many challenges for researchers and requires complex experimental settings. For example, the materials used needed to contain enormous pressure and potential radiation damage, requiring special safety measures.

Another challenge: Under normal circumstances, molybdenum evaporates quickly under radiation. Therefore, Demcon used a special cooling technology based on the high thermal conductivity of liquid sodium. Metals, which are also used as heat transfer fluids in nuclear reactors, have a high boiling point and a wide process temperature, so they can absorb a particularly large amount of heat.

This successful test run in early February is a major step in confirming the feasibility of the entire concept and gives confidence that the technology can be used on a larger industrial scale. .. The benefits of the new method are clear.Molybdenum-100 is used as a starting material, so uranium Reactor— This means that there are few types of radioactive waste, especially those with long half-lives. IRE and its partners continue to develop full installations. The scientific basis for this ambitious plan was confirmed by experiments with the ELBE accelerator.

Technological advances in energy-efficient particle accelerators

Quote: Https: // with extreme energy density (February 22, 2022) obtained on February 22, 2022. Generation of medical isotopes

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Manufacture medical isotopes with extreme energy densities

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