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Strontium-89 Production


Feasibility Study of New Low-Waste Technology for the Production of Fission-Fragment Strontium-89 for Medicine

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-ISO/Isotopes/Fission Reactors

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Novozhilov V V

Leading Institute
Kurchatov Research Center, Russia, Moscow


  • Technology Commercialization International Incorporated, USA, NM, Albuquerque\nBall Systems Company, Inc., USA, VA, Lynchburg

Project summary

THE PURPOSE of the PROJECT is performing the feasibility study of the new low-waste technology of fission-fragment strontium-89 production for medicine, in particular:
· to study the transport mechanism of fission-fragment krypton-89, a predecessor of strontium-89 in a decay chain of nuclides with atomic mass 89, in water solution of uranil-sulphate UO2SO4;
· to optimize the technology of krypton-89 cleaning from accompanying gaseous and volatile fission elements;
· to choose optimal time regimes of krypton-89 holding for producing the commodity strontium-89.

Today for producing a radionuclide 89Sr two reactor techniques based on the reaction of radiation capture 88Sr(n,g)89Sr (in thermal reactor) and threshold reaction with emission of charged particle 89Y(n,p)89Sr (in fast reactor) are used. However they have very poor efficiency because of small cross sections of the reaction contributing in accumulation of target radionuclide in irradiated materials.

In a basis of the new technology of strontium-89 production is put a unique natural opportunity existing at fission of liquid nuclear fuel in a solution-type reactor. In this case there is a possibility not only to influence on the target radioisotope, but also on its genetic predecessors generated in nuclear transmutations of fission fragments in line of decay of nuclides with a mass number 89: 89Se ® 89Br ® 89Kr ® 89Rb ® 89Sr. One of the nuclides of the decay line is 89Kr - a radioisotope of noble gas krypton. Not interacting chemically with fuel, krypton escapes a solution, accumulating in free space over a fluid mirror. The process of removal of fission-fragment krypton from fuel, if necessary, can be intensified with the help of barbotage of noble gas through water solution, for example, of helium or argon. The same gas can be used for consequent transport of krypton from a reactor. A lifetime of 89Kr is 190.7 s, it is sufficient for this process. Holding of fission-fragment krypton in special containers out of neutron radiation, organized in two stages, ensures not only complete decay of krypton-89 into target radioisotope strontium-89, but also its cleaning from accompanying radioisotopes of krypton, including krypton-90, producing at decay the most regulated impurity radioisotope strontium-90. In an active zone of a traditional nuclear reactor, where a fission material is in form of capsulated solid oxide or metal, such opportunity is absent.

High productivity of the proposed technology of radioisotope Sr-89 production is stipulated by high cross-section of 235U fission, reaching ~ 600 barns for thermal neutrons, and a yield of krypton-89 in fission - about 4.5 %. According to estimations, the productivity of the new technology per unit target mass will be in 1000 and more time higher than that for the prototype. The idea of the new proposed technology is protected by patent of Russian Federation No 99107410 "The method of radioisotope strontium-89 production" (priority from 01.04.99).


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