17 November 2017

Spotlight on World-class Partner, General Atomics

First off, thank you for joining us on our shared road trip that takes you to the delivery of a new, reliable source of molybdenum-99 in support of the entire nuclear medicine community.

As promised at the start of the journey, we’ve shared efforts underway to ensure that Nordion continues to be the reliable Mo-99 supplier you have known for more than 40 years. In the articles READY. SET. GO! and A Day in the Life of a Mo-99 Technician we described how we do regular, full-scale simulated Mo-99 runs with inactive target materials and reagents to maintain our equipment, production and test methods, and maintain our people’s training in cGMP methods. Today’s blog article is dedicated to General Atomics (GA).

Nordion continues to forge ahead with world-class partners Missouri Research Reactor (MURR®) and GA to deliver a new, reliable source of Mo-99. Together, our proven expertise is well-matched. GA, known for their target and reactor system design and manufacturing, will develop the low-enriched-uranium (LEU) pellets, the target assembly, and the collection systems. MURR, a premium reactor operator for more than 35 years, will irradiate LEU pellets and perform the first-stage extraction of Mo-99, 52 weeks of the year. And Nordion will perform the final, purification process in our cGMP facility, and ship in the same containers, using the same dedicated logistics that we have used to supply you with Mo-99 in the past.

GA’s Campus in San Diego, California (Photo courtesy of GA)

GA, located in San Diego, is an innovation firm. GA specializes in performing innovative R&D and transforming conceptual results into practical systems. GA and its affiliates operate more than six million square feet of engineering laboratory and manufacturing installations in San Diego, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Utah, Washington DC, Germany and Australia.

From its original charter to explore peaceful uses of atomic energy, GA drew leading scientists who formed the nucleus of a thriving company that continues to attract leaders in science and engineering. Today, GA has more than 12,000 people worldwide and, for half a century, has been developing successful solutions for energy, environmental and defense challenges.

“GA is proud to partner with Nordion and MURR in this critical effort to secure a domestic source of Mo-99,” said Dr. Christina Back, Vice President for Nuclear Technologies and Materials at GA. “By combining our expertise and innovative processes, the three partners are creating a novel approach to generating an isotope that literally saves lives.”

GA developed the unique, proprietary technology to extract the medical isotope Mo-99 from LEU targets and licensed it exclusively to Nordion for medical isotope applications. The patented approach is to produce Mo-99 of the highest specific activity, while avoiding the production of liquid uranium waste, which poses a challenge for technologies using low-enriched uranium (LEU).

In July 2017, a full-scale LEU target irradiation assembly was built by GA and positioned in a simulated MURR reactor pool, pictured here. The simulator was used to verify the flow and pressure drop analysis, and also to demonstrate that the tooling for the installation and removal of LEU target rods worked as intended.
(Photo courtesy of GA)

Nordion continues to work closely with dedicated partners GA and MURR in our efforts to stabilize and support the nuclear medicine community in North America and beyond for decades to come.

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