isotope manufacturing research

Isotope Manufacturing Research & Safety Services UK

Alternative technologies for producing radioisotopes for medical and industrial use

Alternative technologies for producing radioisotopes for medical and industrial use

Synthetically produced radioisotopes are widely used in medical and industrial applications. Historically, these isotopes have been produced in specially designed and constructed nuclear reactors. However, with aging reactors due to shut down in the coming decades, a new arena of research has emerged regarding alternative technologies for producing radioisotopes for medical and industrial applications.


Isotope manufacturing research is a broad term that covers any form of research into alternative means of producing radioisotopes of the species typically used for medical and industrial applications.

This encompasses a very wide field, including (but not limited to) linear accelerator technology and refinement, target design, target material optimisation, irradiation pattern optimisation and chemical separation. These in turn are associated with conventional and radiological hazards, which may subsequently require engineered safety measures such as shielding, access interlocks and radioactive waste and decommissioning strategies.


Due the scheduled shutdown of the current, main production facilities for isotopes, it is important that alternative solutions are found so that the supply of isotopes, particularly with regards to key medical applications, is not affected.

Whilst a new fleet of reactors could provide the supply, recent developments in LINAC technology have improved both feasible operating duration and reliability. LINACs offer the opportunity to produce isotopes with a reduced radioactive waste footprint compared with a reactor and can produce a much purer product that requires less post-processing to separate from unwanted by-products.

Performing detailed calculations in an effort to improve understanding of how isotope yield changes with various parameters and understanding of what by-products are likely to be produced can greatly assist with design feasibility and risk mitigation. Shielding requirements and radioactive waste inventories can be produced via calculation to ensure that the facility design has the potential to operate safely and within regulatory requirements.

TÜV SÜD's Services

TÜV SÜD can offer a range of serviced to support isotope production research, including:

  • Radiation physics simulations – TÜV SÜD’s radiation physics team can perform Monte Carlo simulations to assist with calculating optimal target enrichments and configurations and optimal beam patterns and beam energies. Simulations can also be used for shielding design and to estimate residual dose rates between operations and residual radioactive waste inventories from, for example, activated components and coolant.
  • Radioactive Waste Strategy and Decommissioning Planning - TÜV SÜD’s radwaste team can offer expert advice in all aspects of radioactive waste management strategy from minimising the production of waste to the development of waste management strategies. They also have experience in developing decommissioning plans for complex facilities.
  • Safety Assessment - TÜV SÜD’s safety team can provide safety case support from pre-construction through to final decommissioning. Our team will work with multi-disciplinary teams of designers, operators and engineers to ensure that hazard identification and hazard assessment techniques are brought into the process resulting in a safety-informed design. More information on our safety capabilities can be found here.


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