Virginia-based BWX Technologies said Tuesday that the company had developed an innovative patent-pending neutron capture process that is expected to be market-competitive and enable North American concerns to begin supplying the market with molybdenum-99 critical to many medical procedures.
“The MO-99 produced will be used in newly designed technetium-99 generators that are in commercial development at BWXT,” the company said in a statement.
The new process will rely on the use of molybdenum rather than uranium targets, “which will mitigate radioactive waste streams, eliminate nuclear proliferation concerns and lead to a significant reduction in production waste costs,” the company announced.
Mo-99 is the parent radioisotope of Tc-99m, which is used in more than 30 million medical procedures each year. The company said it expects it will enter the “roughly $400 million global Tc-99 segment through generator sales to radiopharmacies.” The initial focus of BWXT's market strategy will be the North American market, which it plans to enter by the end of 2019, contingent on regulatory approvals.
The Department of Energy has expressed interest in a viable non-uranium source for Tc-99. BWXT said that the Mo-99 the process produces “will provide the same concentration of Tc-99 that is currently available from generators that use fission-based Mo-99 made from uranium targets.”
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