February 2013: ORNL begins implementation of new Californium-252 production contract
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Feb. 28, 2013 -- The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory - home of one of only two reactor facilities in the world capable of producing Californium-252 (Cf-252) - has begun implementing a new six-year contract between the DOE Isotope Program and industry to make this unique and versatile radioisotope.
The new contract follows the successful completion of a four-year Cf-252 program under an agreement with a consortium of industries that use the neutron emitting radioisotope for a number of applications that focus mostly on analysis, detection and nuclear energy.
"Californium-252 serves as a unique, portable neutron source," said Julie Ezold, who manages ORNL's Cf-252 production program. "A cross-cut of industries including coal, oil and mineral companies rely on it for critical applications, and it is used in defense and national security applications."
The radioisotope is critical to a number of energy and security related tasks. The coal industry uses Cf-252's neutron emissions to detect impurities in coal; the construction industry performs similar analysis on cement. The oil industry sends the radioisotope down well shafts to determine the well's potential productivity. Cf-252 is also used to calibrate radiation detection instruments including those used in worldwide port security operations. The powerful neutron emitter is also used to start up dormant naval and commercial nuclear reactors.
ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) is one of only two reactors in the world with sufficient neutron production, or "flux," to irradiate Curium targets to produce Cf-252. The irradiated targets are then processed in the adjoining hot cells at the Radiochemical Engineering and Development Center (REDC).
The only other facility capable of producing Cf-252 is in Dimitrovgrad, Russia. Cf-252 produced at ORNL supplies approximately 70 percent of global demand for the material.
Cf-252 results from a complex process that begins with the irradiation of a Curium target in HFIR, followed by several steps involving chemical processing and purification at the REDC and fabrication of new Curium targets. The process includes the production of several precursor radioisotopes; in fact, the Cf-252 program enabled the production of the Berkelium-249 used in the U.S.-Russia collaboration that discovered element 117, announced in 2010.
The work is funded through the DOE Isotope Program within the DOE Office of Science. The Office of Science and the consortium finalized the new, six-year contract in November.
"With HFIR, REDC and the unique nuclear engineering capabilities they provide, the DOE Isotope Program is able to supply a global, billion-dollar industry with a critical material," Ezold said. "This one-of-a-kind direct contract with industry makes possible work that is important to our energy sector and to global security."
ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.
DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Bill Cabage
cabagewh at ornl.gov
December 2012: Medical Isotope Legislation Update
The American Medical Isotopes Production Act, first introduced in 2009 to provide federal assistance for the domestic production of the medical isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99,) could be enacted as part of the much larger National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013. This bill is scheduled to go to a conference in the near future before its final passage by the House and Senate. Please click here to learn more about the bill. For an update from the American Institute of Physics on the status of the bill, please click here.
November 2012: Update on U.S. Helium Program and U.S. Production of 99-Molybdenum
The American Institute of Physics has a press release regarding the U.S. Helium Program and U.S. Production of 99-Molybdenum. It includes a discussion of a recent report by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior, recent hearings in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the "Energy Critical Elements Advancement Act", and the production of 99-Mo via a linear accelerator. Please click here to read the AIP press release.
November 2012: Bidding Closed for He3 Auction
Bidding has closed for the Fall 2012 He3 Auction. For more details on the auction, please see our page http://isotopes.gov/he-3auction.
October - November 2012: He3 Auction -- Bids Now Accepted
Bids are now being accepted for the DOE auction of Helium-3 gas. All valid bids to purchase He-3 gas must be received by the U.S. Department of Energy no later than 5 PM, local prevailing time (Washington, DC) on November 14, 2012. To submit a bid, and to see more information on the auction, please see our page http://isotopes.gov/he-3auction.
September 2012: He3 Auction in Fall 2012
DOE is now accepting questions regarding an Invitation for Bids for a Helium-3 auction in Fall 2012. All questions must be submitted to the email address He3auction@science.doe.gov no later than 5 PM on October 23, 2012. DOE will respond to all questions by 5 PM, October 26, 2012. DOE will post all questions received and their corresponding answers on the web page http://isotopes.gov/he-3auction. The identity of the stakeholder posing the question will be kept anonymous and will not be posted on that web page.
Please click here for more general information about the supply of 3He in the U.S.
July 2012: DOE Early Career Research Program
The DOE Funding Announcements for the 2012 Early Career Research Program are now available at http://science.energy.gov/early-career/ .
The schedule is as follows:
Due date for Pre-applications: 6-Sep-12, 5 pm eastern time
Encourage/Discourage Decisions: 4-Oct-12
Due date for Proposals: 26-Nov-12, 5 pm eastern time
Note that preapplications from everyone and lab proposals from DOE national laboratories must be submitted directly in the Portfolio Analysis and Management System (PAMS) this year. That means all Principal Investigators MUST register and create accounts in PAMS. Interested PIs are encouraged to register right away. Registration information is in the solicitations and FAQs. Due times are 5 pm this year (instead of the usual 11:59 pm) to take advantage of the PAMS help desk hours.
March 2012: Survey Form for Private Sector on Future Isotope Needs
The NIDC is requesting that companies complete and submit this survey form and return to Wolfgang Runde [firstname.lastname@example.org] by March 30, 2012. Information should be submitted even if the potential need for an isotope is somewhat uncertain for the coming years. If a specific isotope is not identified or requested by anyone, it may not be considered for production or production development by the IDPRA during fiscal years 2012-2016. For more information see our Newsletters page.
Please send any suggestions for news items to email@example.com.