Northstar Medical Radioisotopes has finished its project to build a molybdenum-99 factory in Beloit, Wisconsin, with the technical and financial backing of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The facility is the world’s first plant that will produce the isotope using a new technology that does not need highly enriched uranium and is projected to increase the company’s production capacity by almost twofold, NNSA said Monday.
Northstar engineered a process that utilizes electron accelerators to irradiate molybdenum-100 targets to create Mo-99.
NNSA estimates the radioisotope supplier will meet nearly 40 percent of the demand for the product used in U.S. nuclear medicine.
Aside from its potential benefit to medical diagnostics, the breakthrough also advances NNSA’s goal of reducing nuclear proliferation risks. The government has domestic and international industry partnerships to encourage the use of low-enriched uranium, which cannot be weaponized unlike HEU.
The Beloit plant is complete with high-capacity processing and packaging equipment for the distribution of Mo-99 to radiopharmacies and hospitals.
To operate the facility, Northstar is working to submit regulatory requirements before the end of next year.