Radiation Applications

Cobalt-60 / Framatome And Exelon Sign MOU On Production Of Radioisotope In US Reactors

By David Dalton
28 December 2021

Two companies will assess feasibility and economics
Framatome And Exelon Sign MOU On Production Of Radioisotope In US Reactors
The control room at Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear power station in Illinois. Courtesy Exelon.
French nuclear company Framatome and US nuclear operator Exelon Generation have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop solutions to produce Cobalt-60 in pressurised water reactors operated by Exelon.

Cobalt-60 is a radioisotope produced in nuclear reactors out of natural element Cobalt-59. It plays a critical role in healthcare applications such as sterilisation of medical devices and treatment of certain cancers.

Under the MOU, the two companies will cooperate on technology development and assess the feasibility and economics of Cobalt-60 production in PWR reactors for industrial and medical purposes as long-term demand continues to grow.

Exelon Generation operates the largest US fleet of nuclear plants with more than 18,700 MW from 21 reactors at 12 facilities in Illinois, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month, US-based Westinghouse Electric Company and France’s state-owned power company and nuclear operator EDF signed an MOU to produce Cobalt-60 in PWRs owned and operated by EDF in France.

EDF and Westinghouse said they would begin a feasibility assessment and target an anticipated Cobalt-59 load date in the late 2020s with the first Cobalt-60 harvest in the early 2030s.

In June, Romanian state-controlled nuclear energy producer Nuclearelectrica is to carry out preliminary studies into the possibility of producing Cobalt-60 at the Cernavodă nuclear power station.

The company said in an investment strategy that the studies will cost about $180,000 and will be funded and carried out by project partner Nordion Inc, the Canada-based health science company.

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