Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Delft University of Technology patent for manufacturing radio isotopes

12.09.2008
Thanks to a newly-developed technology at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, global shortages of radio isotopes for cancer diagnosis could be a thing of the past. This is the message from Prof. Bert Wolterbeek of Delft University of Technology’s Reactor Institute Delft (RID) in an article in university journal Delta.

It has made global headlines recently: hospitals are facing a shortage of radio isotopes which means that patients will have to wait longer for cancer diagnosis. Only a handful of reactors around the world manufacture the isotope, technetium-99m, which is used to treat about forty million patients annually. Three of these reactors are currently unable to supply any due to maintenance work, including Europe’s most important: the Dutch reactor in Petten.

Additional isotope manufacturers would reduce the risk of shortages considerably. The current process requires enriched uranium. And that is the kind of material for which manufacturers need a special permit due to nuclear non-proliferation treaties. Prof. Bert Wolterbeek of the RID is working on a radical solution to this problem. He is developing a method for producing the sought-after isotope without uranium. If these experiments prove to be applicable in an industrial environment, many more factories could manufacture the material.

"Technetium-99m, the material in question, is currently made by highly enriched uranium fission,” Wolterbeek explains. "One of the products created is radioactive molybdenum-99, the raw material for technetium-99m. Manufacturers supply this molybdenum to hospitals secured in rods. A hospital can ‘harvest’ the technetium-99m isotope from a rod for a week as the molybdeen-99 slowly decays into technetium-99m."

Yet molybdenum-99 can also be manufactured from molybdenum-98, a stable isotope made of natural molybdenum, a material which mining companies already extract from the ground. Wolterbeek has patented a technique in which he bombards this raw material with neutrons in order to make molybdenum-99. The molybdenum atoms are not just ‘activated’ by the neutron bombardment, but are also separated from the surrounding atoms by the energy transfer. The resultant molybdenum-99 can then be dissolved in water. This means that the isotope can be produced in highly concentrated form. And this aspect is crucial. Wolterbeek: "The activity concentration of the radioactive material needs to be high, otherwise patients will be given too high a chemical dose to form a clear radiation image."

Wolterbeek wishes to hold larger-scale tests in conjunction with Urenco. The head of the Stable Isotopes department at this reprocessing company, Charles Mol, envisages the technology from Delft University of Technology being used to open up a "highly interesting market". In his view, scientists around the globe are desperately searching for alternative manufacturing methods as the use of enriched uranium will cease at some point due to nuclear non-proliferation treaties. "Another reason," he says, "is that the current manufacturing process produces a huge amount of radioactive waste. And any alternative method using low-enriched uranium could produce even more waste."

Frank Nuijens | alfa
Further information:
http://www.tudelft.nl

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht PET identifies which prostate cancer patients can benefit from salvage radiation treatment
05.12.2017 | Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

nachricht Designing a golden nanopill
01.12.2017 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond Lenses and Space Lasers at Photonics West

15.12.2017 | Trade Fair News

A better way to weigh millions of solitary stars

15.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New epidemic management system combats monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria

15.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>