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Device Built for Extreme Environment Could Speed Up Isotope Production
News

Device Built for Extreme Environment Could Speed Up Isotope Production

Device Built for Extreme Environment Could Speed Up Isotope Production
News

Device Built for Extreme Environment Could Speed Up Isotope Production

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An Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher has invented a version of an isotope-separating device that can withstand extreme environments, including radiation and chemical solvents.

ORNL’s Kevin Gaddis designed the automated high pressure ion chromatography, or HPIC, system to improve purification of actinium-225, an isotope used in cancer treatments, from thorium targets that have been irradiated in a particle accelerator.


Previously, technicians relied on gravity to perform separations in hot cells, since high radiation levels would destroy an HPIC’s electronic components. Gaddis used radiation-tolerant materials to build a HPIC that uses air pressure, not electricity, to control the flow of the sample and chemicals that separate Ac-225 from byproducts. In tests, the HPIC cut separations time by 75%.


That’s important because demand is high for Ac-225, which has a short half-life. “Hours matter,” Gaddis said. “If we can reduce the time for the separation, we can get more product out.”

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