Petten reactor starts supplying Xenon-133

15 May 2018

The High Flux Reactor at Petten in the Netherlands is now producing the medical radioisotope Xenon-133 (Xe-133). The move follows the successful collaboration between nuclear medicine company Curium and the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) to develop and install a production process for the isotope.

Xenon-133 - 460 (Curium)
Cases of Xenon-133 gas for delivery (Image: Curium)

The Xe-133 gas is being produced during the existing Molybdenum production process in Petten, which has recently been fully based on low-enriched uranium (LEU) targets.

"After significant R&D efforts, it was possible to safely capture radioactive Xenon gas and purify it from our Molybdenum process," said Frank de Lange, director of Curium at Petten. "In order to be able to supply this new product, NRG's existing Molybdenum production facility has been adapted and NRG has made a change to its [Nuclear Energy Act] permit."

NRG Business Director Philippe Brouwers said, "It is a valuable addition to the diversity of medical isotopes produced here in Petten. This is a good example of how Petten anticipates the demand for different isotopes."

Curium in Petten sends the Xe-133 to its sister company in the USA, where the pure bulk is converted to the final product. US hospitals have been able to order the product since 10 May.

"By sourcing the bulk Xe-133 material from LEU targets used in the Petten facility, Curium has created a vertically integrated supply chain that provides additional control over the manufacturing process and ensures product availability," the company said.

Xe-133 is used in diagnostic inhalation studies for the evaluation of pulmonary function, for imaging the lungs and can also be used to assess cerebral blood flow.

Curium was formed in April 2017 through the merger of IBA Molecular and Mallinckrodt Nuclear Medicine LLC. It has manufacturing facilities across Europe and the USA, providing over 14 million patients worldwide with radioisotopes.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News