The most prominent players in the domestic molybdenum-99 realm converged on the Midwest this week, including making a stop at SHINE Technologies in Janesville.
The 2022 National Nuclear Security Administration’s Mo-99 Stakeholders Meeting was held Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago.
The annual meeting, which is open to the public, is a forum to gain insights and updates from Mo-99 producers, organizations involved in the supply chain, and the NNSA and other U.S. government agencies.
On Wednesday in Chicago, four prominent Mo-99 producers and prospective producers, including SHINE, provided updates on their technology and processes, timelines for production, recent milestones, potential upcoming challenges, and more.
The morning session included updates from the NNSA, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)-Nuclear Energy Agency.
And an afternoon session provided industry perspectives on the U.S. Mo-99 supply status from Lantheus, Curium Pharma, Cardinal Health, United Pharmacy Partners, and Vizient.
The hybrid meeting’s Chicago base allowed for a second-day agenda that included tours of some of SHINE’s Wisconsin-based facilities.
SHINE was excited Thursday to provide about two dozen meeting attendees, who bused up from Chicago, a tour of our “Chrysalis.” They were able to see the construction and progress of our large-scale medical isotope production facility that is scheduled to go online producing Mo-99 late next year.
Mo-99 meeting highlights
The NNSA Mo-99 Program, at its core, has had two main directives: to assist global Mo-99 production facilities in converting to non-high-enriched uranium (HEU) processes; and to support the establishment of domestic supplies of Mo-99 without the use of proliferation-sensitive HEU.
With that in mind, a few general updates from the meeting:
- In terms of the global landscape, NNSA Foreign Affairs Specialist Max Postman reminded the group of the January milestone that the U.S. is no longer exporting high-enriched uranium for medical isotope production.
Postman called the end of exporting HEU a testament to domestic advancements in non-HEU production and a landmark non-proliferation accomplishment.
- As part of its support to establish non-HEU domestic supply, the NNSA has been implementing and competitively awarding cost-share cooperative agreements to companies working to develop non-HEU Mo-99 technologies.
Postman said that with domestic production of Mo-99 expected to increase significantly in 2023, those cooperative agreements are ramping down and that no new agreements are currently planned.
With that in mind, the NNSA is studying and developing several new ways to keep the Mo-99 Program active and supportive moving forward.
Among supportive efforts already in place, Postman said the NNSA will continue providing funds to the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories to support development and collaboration with producers. The NNSA also remains part of the joint management of Uranium Lease and Take-Back program.
- Speaking of the ULTB, the NNSA’s Brett Cox reminded meeting attendees that the program’s first contracts were signed with SHINE in December, calling it a big milestone for the program, and one that took years of coordination to accomplish.