Canadian Scientists Find Safe Way to Produce Nuclear Isotopes

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Canadian scientists think they have a solution to producing an important medical imaging isotope without a nuclear reactor.

Researchers at Canada’s national laboratory believe the new method of producing technetium-99 means the shortages experienced in years past could be a thing of the past.

Previously, the U.S. had obtained supplies of the nuclear isotope from aging power reactors in Canada and Europe that use highly enriched uranium.

Last year, Congress considered a bill that would direct the Department of Energy to partner with U.S companies to develop domestic supplies.

The new method developed in Canada could be the preferred standard. The method uses cyclotrons, which are small particle accelerators found typically found at hospitals, to produce the isotope, according to an article by CBC News. Technetium-99 is used in about 80 percent of all diagnostic scans using nuclear medicine. It’s used to detect and treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions.