Wisconsin-based company will help secure U.S. supply of Mo-99 used in more than 40,000 medical procedures daily and promote nuclear nonproliferation
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) issued a cooperative agreement worth $35 million to a Wisconsin company to support the commercial production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), a critical isotope used in more than 40,000 medical procedures in the United States each day, including the diagnosis of heart disease and cancer.
The agreement with SHINE Technologies, LLC, headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin, will help establish a reliable supply of Mo-99 without the need to use highly enriched uranium (HEU), which presents concerns for nuclear nonproliferation goals.
“This cooperative agreement is a triple win for the United States,” said Jill Hruby, DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator. “NNSA’s continued partnership with SHINE will help ensure that doctors and patients get the medical isotopes they need, that those isotopes are produced without the use of proliferation-sensitive HEU, and that the work gets done here in the United States.”
Historically, U.S. medical facilities have procured Mo-99 from foreign sources. Those sources traditionally produced Mo-99 using HEU, which if stolen or diverted could be used in a nuclear weapon.
“NNSA is committed to minimizing the civilian use of HEU, not just in foreign facilities, but also here at home,” Hruby said. “By supporting SHINE’s innovative production of Mo-99 using low-enriched uranium, we advance our national security goals and support the medical community.”
This is the third of four agreements to be issued under NNSA’s most recent Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). In 2012, Congress directed NNSA to establish a program to support the development of commercial domestic production of Mo-99 without the use of HEU. NNSA implements this requirement through its Mo-99 Program, managed by the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, which works globally to prevent state and non-state actors from developing nuclear weapons or acquiring weapons-usable nuclear or radiological materials, equipment, technology, and expertise. The Mo-99 Program has worked cooperatively with U.S. industry partners, securing agreements to share the cost of establishing domestic Mo-99 production without the use of HEU, and providing funds to DOE’s National Laboratories in support of those efforts.
In July 2020, NNSA announced it would make funds available to industry to start commercial-scale production by the end of 2023. After conducting an independent merit review of the applicants, NNSA selected three companies in March 2021 to begin negotiations for the award of four cooperative agreements. NNSA issued two previous awards under this FOA on Aug. 27, 2021, and negotiations for the fourth award are ongoing.