Canadian and Romanian firms collaborate on medical isotopes

29 September 2023

Laurentis Energy Partners and Nuclearelectrica are to collaborate on the production of medical isotopes at the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant and explore the possibility of heavy water production in Romania.

From left: Hartwick, Burduja and Ghita (Image: Laurentis)

A memorandum of understanding was signed by Nuclearelectrica's CEO Cosmin Ghita and Ken Hartwick, president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which is the parent company of Laurentis Energy Partners, with Romania's Minister of Energy Sebastian Burduja also present for the event.

The MoU follows on from the announcement last week by Canada's Natural Resources and Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson of CAD3 billion in potential export financing to support clean energy security in Romania, where Nuclearelectrica operates two CANDU reactors at Cernavoda, with plans for more in development.

CANDU reactors can produce medical isotopes without interrupting electricity generation, with OPG's Darlington nuclear power plant producing molybdenum-99, helium-3, heavy water, and tritium, with plans under way to produce cobalt-60, which is currently also extracted from reactors at the Pickering station. Laurentis said the MoU will look at working together to produce and supply heavy water, which CANDU reactors use as a moderator and coolant, and which can be used in pharmaceuticals, medical diagnosis and fibre-optics and OLED screens.

Jason Van Wart, President and CEO of Laurentis Energy Partners, said: "Laurentis is committed to leveraging our proven refurbishment and isotope production expertise to advance healthcare solutions and expand market opportunities in Romania ... and look forward to our cooperation in the pursuit of sustainable and impactful global energy solutions."

Nuclearelectrica's Ghita said: "The nuclear industry is currently essential to generating clean energy and producing medical isotopes given the recent evolutions of the medical isotope market, and we are looking forward to this partnership with Laurentis as a way to advance much-needed global solutions for the health sector."

Minister Burduja said: "This is a significant step toward helping to improve the health of millions of people around the world and demonstrates the multiple benefits of nuclear power plants: besides being a source of clean energy, contributing to energy stability and economic growth, they are able to contribute to cancer treatment. Equally important is the project to restart heavy water production in Romania ... the demand for heavy water is growing and Romania can be a strategic player. Romania and Canada’s collaboration can be an example to other countries about the important role of nuclear energy."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News