Posted on: 12th December 2015

#12 Medical Isotope Production

Molybdenum-99 is vital to nuclear medicine procedures worldwide. The element decays into technetium 99m, the metastable nuclear isomer of technetium-99, which is reportedly used in 30 million medical imaging tests in a year to detect cancers, study organ structure and assess blood supply and heart function. However, the supply chain of the isotope is complex, and easier alternative methods to produce the isotopes are being investigated. Research teams in the US uses a fusion method to create molybdenum-99. By using powerful neutron beams, they create a fusion reaction that releases a cloud of neutrons that can, in turn, produce molybdenum-99 by the breaking up uranium-based compounds.

The complexity and the multidisciplinary nature of fusion research produced number of spin-offs that have found applications in industry, other scientific disciplines, and technological advances. The areas that have benefited from fusion research span a variety of fields ranging from medicine and material science to computing and astrophysics.

EUROfusion has identified some of these spin-offs, looked at fusion research aspects that have the potential for short-term benefits, and prepared a non-exhaustive list of fusion spin-offs which demonstrate the short-term benefits of fusion research on the way to fusion electricity.