Commercial Superconducting Electron Linac for Radioisotope Production

Period of Performance: 01/01/2012 - 12/31/2012


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Niowave Inc.
1012 N. Walnut Street Array
Lansing, MI 48906
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


The majority of radioisotopes used in the United States today come from foreign suppliers or are generated parasitically in large government accelerators and reactors. Both of these restrictions limit the availability of radioisotopes, especially short lived ones, and discourages the development and evaluation of new isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. Studies from the nuclear medicine community have been recommending development of dedicated accelerators for production of radiopharmaceuticals for over 15 years (Institute of Medicine, 1995; Reba, et al, 2000; National Research Council, 2007). A high power electron linear accelerator (linac) can create both proton and neutron rich isotopes by generating high energy x-rays that knock out protons or neutrons from stable atoms or by photofission of uranium or thorium atoms. Recent advances in superconducting electron linacs have decreased the size and complexity of these systems such that they are economically competitive with nuclear reactors and high energy proton accelerators. Niowave, Inc. is developing a radioisotope production facility based on a superconducting electron linac with multiple liquid metal targets. These electron linac based production facilities are expected to cost between $10-15 million with minimal licensing hurdles. This would allow the siting of many units around the country that are close to large metropolitan areas to supply a broad range of isotopes reliably and economically. This SBIR proposal will identify radioisotopes of commercial interest and design the electron linac required. In addition, the isotope production targets, hotcells and radiopharmaceutical production facility will be designed with partners that will be brought into the project from the biomedical & amp; nuclear engineering community. Finally, by collaborating with leading research universities, this proposal seeks to educate and train the next generation of scientists, engineers and technicians involved in isotope production.