Scientists of the Physicotechnical Institute of the Tomsk Polytechnic University (FTI TPU) developed a plant for the non-waste production of technetium-99m, one of the most sought-for isotopes in nuclear medicine. The generator simultaneously reduces the cost of obtaining an isotope and solves the problem of waste disposal.
Technetium-99m - radioactive isotope, actively used in medical diagnostics. It is obtained from the decay products of another radioisotope - molybdenum-99, which is formed during the fission of uranium-235, this process leads to the formation of a large volume of radioactive waste. Scientists of the Physicotechnical Institute have developed a technology for its production from molybdenum-98, which excludes the appearance of waste. The advantage of technetium-99m, in comparison to other radioisotopes, is its short half-life (6 hours) and low gamma-ray energy (140 keV), sufficient for detection by gamma cameras. It has a relatively small radiation load on the patient's healthy organs.
Technetium-99m is obtained with the help of a special installation - a sorption generator - a glass chromatographic column with communications connected to it, filled with aluminum oxide with adsorbed molybdenum.
The next stage of the work was the development of an installation for the non-waste production of technetium-99m directly in medical institutions. To do this, scientists have created a compact sorption generator in a protective lead shell with saline as an isotope carrier. For each medical institution, a generator is produced.
One generator of technetium in a medical institution is used daily for two weeks, and then returned to the manufacturer, which sends it for processing. Molybdenum-98, which has not converted to molybdenum-99, remains inside the generator column. This technology allows regenerating molybdenum-98 from waste generators and liquid radioactive waste and returning it to production. At the same time, its chemical quality even exceeds the original product. Thus, the manufacturer uses it to the last milligram with an efficiency of more than 95%. This is quite advantageous, since one milligram of enriched molybdenum-98 costs about $2.
The press noted that the TPU is one of the three Russian scientific institutions engaged in the production of technetium generators. In addition to TPU, such production is available at the Karpov Research Physicochemical Institute and the Leipunsky Institute of Physics and Power Engineering in Obninsk.