Energy-Recovery Linacs for Commercial Radioisotope Production

Period of Performance: 02/17/2015 - 11/16/2015


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Muplus, Inc.
45 Jonquil Lane Array
Newport News, VA 23606
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Most radioisotopes are produced by nuclear reactors or positive ion accelerators, which are expensive to construct and to operate. Photonuclear reactions using bremsstrahlung photon beams from less-expensive electron linacs can generate isotopes of critical interest, but much of the beam energy in a conventional electron linac is dumped, making unwanted radioactivation. GENERAL STATEMENT OF HOW THIS PROBLEM OR SITUATION IS BEING ADDRESSED. A Superconducting Radio Frequency (SRF) Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) is a path to a more diverse and reliable domestic supply of short-lived, high-value, high-demand isotopes at a cost lower than that of isotopes produced by reactors or positive-ion accelerators. A Jefferson Lab approach to this problem involves a thin photon production target, which allows the electron beam to recirculate through rf cavities so the beam energy can be recovered while the spent electrons are extracted and absorbed at a low enough energy to minimize unwanted radioactivation. MuPlus, in partnership with Jefferson Lab and Niowave, proposes to extend this ERL technology to the commercial world of radioisotope production for medical diagnostics and therapy. WHAT WILL BE DONE IN PHASE I. MuPlus will use our own codes, MuSim for MCNP6 and G4beamline for GEANT4, and others to optimize beam parameters of an ERL-based radioisotope production facility. Components include the radiator with photon and electron beam parameters, absorbers for scattered electrons, target cooling, beam-radiator interactions, radiator optimization, thermal distributions and power handling, management of energy spread and angular acceptance for the recirculation arc, and optimization of isotope production versus energy recovery requirements. Particular isotopes to be first examples of this new technology will be chosen based on market analysis for an engineering design to be done in Phase II. COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS AND OTHER BENEFITS ERLs are increasingly the technology of choice for highly demanding applications. In energy recovery, more than 90% of the beam power is recycled and not deposited in a beam dump. Our first application will be for nuclear medicine, which has humanitarian and commercial benefits. Of the 30 million people who are hospitalized each year in the United States, a third are treated with nuclear medicine. More than 10 million nuclear-medicine procedures are performed on patients and more than 100 million nuclear- medicine tests are performed each year in the United States alone. There are nearly one hundred radioisotopes whose beta and/or gamma radiation is used in diagnosis, therapy, or investigations in nuclear medicine. We are interested in the commonly used isotopes as well as developing techniques for isotopes for new applications, both medical and industrial. KEY WORDS: energy-recovery, superconducting RF, linac, commercial, radioisotope, production SUMMARY FOR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: An energy recovery technique for superconducting linear accelerators developed at Jefferson Lab is being applied to the production of radioisotopes used for medical diagnostics and therapy. This Energy Recovery Linac will reduce operating costs for isotope production facilities by being more efficient and by producing fewer unwanted radiation byproducts.