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Molecules 2018, 23(8), 1872;

14 MeV Neutrons for 99Mo/99mTc Production: Experiments, Simulations and Perspectives

ENEA-Department of Fusion and Technology for Nuclear Safety and Security, Via E. Fermi 45, Frascati, I-00044 Roma, Italy
ENEA—Italian National Institute of Ionizing Radiation Metrology (INMRI), Casaccia Research Centre, Via Anguillarese 301, 00123 Roma, Italy
Department of Morphology, Surgery and Experimental Medicine, University of Ferrara, Via Ludovico Ariosto, 35-44121 Ferrara, Italy
Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Via Ludovico Ariosto 35, 44121 Ferrara, Italy
Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, University of Ferrara, Via Ludovico Ariosto 35, 44121 Ferrara, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 June 2018 / Revised: 19 July 2018 / Accepted: 20 July 2018 / Published: 27 July 2018
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Background: the gamma-emitting radionuclide Technetium-99m (99mTc) is still the workhorse of Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) as it is used worldwide for the diagnosis of a variety of phatological conditions. 99mTc is obtained from 99Mo/99mTc generators as pertechnetate ion, which is the ubiquitous starting material for the preparation of 99mTc radiopharmaceuticals. 99Mo in such generators is currently produced in nuclear fission reactors as a by-product of 235U fission. Here we investigated an alternative route for the production of 99Mo by irradiating a natural metallic molybdenum powder using a 14-MeV accelerator-driven neutron source. Methods: after irradiation, an efficient isolation and purification of the final 99mTc-pertechnetate was carried out by means of solvent extraction. Monte Carlo simulations allowed reliable predictions of 99Mo production rates for a newly designed 14-MeV neutron source (New Sorgentina Fusion Source). Results: in traceable metrological conditions, a level of radionuclidic purity consistent with accepted pharmaceutical quality standards, was achieved. Conclusions: we showed that this source, featuring a nominal neutron emission rate of about 1015 s−1, may potentially supply an appreciable fraction of the current 99Mo global demand. This study highlights that a robust and viable solution, alternative to nuclear fission reactors, can be accomplished to secure the long-term supply of 99Mo. View Full-Text
Keywords: Technetium-99m; Molibdenum-99; neutron generator Technetium-99m; Molibdenum-99; neutron generator

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Capogni, M.; Pietropaolo, A.; Quintieri, L.; Angelone, M.; Boschi, A.; Capone, M.; Cherubini, N.; De Felice, P.; Dodaro, A.; Duatti, A.; Fazio, A.; Loreti, S.; Martini, P.; Pagano, G.; Pasquali, M.; Pillon, M.; Uccelli, L.; Pizzuto, A. 14 MeV Neutrons for 99Mo/99mTc Production: Experiments, Simulations and Perspectives. Molecules 2018, 23, 1872.

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