The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has signed follow-on cooperative agreements with three projects to establish a reliable domestic source of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) that will be produced without the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

The agreements are with Shine Medical Technologies, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes and General Atomics.  Shine plans to produce Mo-99 from low-enriched uranium (LEU), but using sub-critical accelerator technology rather than a nuclear reactor, NNSA said. NorthStar is developing a method using a linear accelerator, while General Atomics is developing an LEU target fission technology.

NNSA’s support to the three projects is based on a 50/50% government/commercial cost-share basis, up to a total NNSA contribution of $25m to each project. Currently the USA does not produce Mo-99 and imports supplies from foreign producers, some of which use HEU in the production processes. The latest funding completes the full $25 million NNSA contribution to each project.