A solution to looming medical isotope supply chain issues.
- Allows for the enrichment of isotopes with a low atomic mass (<100 amu). These isotopes do not lend themselves well to being separated or enriched in a large-scale centrifuge
- Allows for enrichment at a small scale, which results in a smaller footprint and considerably lower capital cost. Consequently, the process is suited to the enrichment of low volume, high value isotopes for use in specialized environments
- Is modular, which allows for inexpensive and quick capacity increases as demand dictates
- Uses a similar amount of energy compared to laser enabled approaches
- The only moving part in the entire ASP process are the compressor rotors
Current market dynamics
Tc-99m is the most widely used imaging agent globally due to its versatility. The molecule is used in approximately 80% of nuclear diagnostic imaging procedures, or about 40,000 medical procedures in the United States every day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Tc-99m is a particularly useful imaging radionuclide because it:
- Can be chemically incorporated into radio-pharmaceuticals that have affinities for different tissue and organ systems
- Has a sufficiently long half-life (~6 hours) to be functional in nuclear medicine procedures
- Emits energetic gamma rays (140 kilo electron volts, keV) that can be detected efficiently with widely available camera technologies
- Can be supplied efficiently to hospitals and clinics using technetium generators
- Provides low patient doses for some procedures due to its short half-life and lack of alpha or beta radiations
Supply chain issues
Producers of Molybdenum-99 are few and widespread.
Tc-99m is produced from the radiological decay of Molybdenum-99, which is usually created commercially by the fission of highly enriched uranium in a small number of research and material testing nuclear reactors in several countries.
Molybdenum-99 has a short half-life.
Molybdenum-99 has a half-life of just 66 hours adding to the supply side challenge. The activity of Mo-99 declines by about 1% per hour because of radioactive decay. It must be moved through the supply chain quickly to minimize decay losses.
Security of supply under constant strain.
Security of the supply of both Mo-99 and Tc-99, being time critical, is under constant strain, often due to interruption or breakdown of this supply chain with serious implications for hospitals and their patients.
Current reactors are aging.
Many of the reactors that currently produce Mo-99 are over 50 years old and risk being shut down over the next 10 – 20 years.
Technetium-99m can also be produced from Mo-100
Highly enriched Mo-100 can be converted into Tc-99m either using a Cyclotron or a Linear Accelerator (LINAC). Mo-100 is stable, does not decay and can therefore be stored indefinitely, removing much of the current supply side issues.
Cyclotrons are available in large hospitals or radio-pharmacies. The stable Mo-100 isotope is bombarded by hydrogen nuclei (a single proton). Tc-99m and two neutrons are released.
WE ARE CONSTRUCTING A MULTI-ISOTOPE ENRICHMENT FACILITY
- The plant will initially have a capacity of 5 Kg/ year, which can be expanded to 20 Kg/ year
- A major advantage of ASP’s technology is that it is modular, so it can increase the capacity of a plant as additional identical modules are inserted into the system. This uniformity also allows efficient component replacement in the case of maintenance or component failure and reduces downtime
- We expect commissioning in mid-2024 and production in 2H 2024