RI involved in superconducting linear accelerator for isotope production

The first industrial use of a high-power electron linear accelerator based on superconducting technology is looming at the horizon, and RI Research Instruments looks forward to playing a pivotal role in bringing this accelerator into operation.

In 2016, a project launched by the Dutch company ASML, a world leading manufacturer of lithography systems, received the National Icon award of the Netherlands for a novel concept for the production of Molybdenium 99 (Mo-99), the world’s most used medical isotope which is an important tool in medical diagnostics and cancer treatment. The new production method suggested by ASML is based on an electron accelerator and could become a good alternative to the current way of production in only a few remaining old nuclear reactors, which also produces high-level radioactive waste and, due to the age of the reactors, does not have a long-term perspective.

The project gained momentum after ASML teamed up with IRE, the Institute for Radio Elements, a partner in Belgium with excellent know-how in the radiopharmaceutical supply line. In the end of 2017, a new company named LightHouse BV was formed, bringing together financial support from IRE, the intellectual property of ASML on Mo-99 production, and experts from both companies to evaluate the feasibility of the concept. LightHouse BV contracted RI Research Instruments and other specialized companies to evaluate and mitigate the risks related to the project.

Based on its broad range of distinct competences RI Research Instruments GmbH was chosen to evaluate the technological base of the high-power electron linear accelerator required for the Mo-99 production. The evaluation had a positive outcome, and consequently the risk mitigation phase for one of the main systems of the LightHouse project could be ended in late 2018. The next step towards the realization of the first LightHouse accelerator will be the design and development phase.

IRE was able to convince the Belgian government of the value of the project, which in early September 2018 led to the grant of a substantial contribution to the project execution, increasing the probability that this first industrial use of a high power superconducting linear accelerator may actually become reality.

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