Streamlined Actinium-225 Processing through new All-Purpose Hot Cells

BNL AP Hot Cells

BNL AP Hot Cells

Since 2014, the DOE Isotope Program has sponsored the Tri-Lab research effort to provide accelerator-produced Ac-225 for radiotherapy. Thorium-232 targets are irradiated in proton accelerators at Los Alamos and Brookhaven national laboratories, then shipped to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which performs chemical processing and Ac-225 separation. This collaboration has established reliable, routine Ac-225 production, ­­demonstrating that the process is scalable.

While the DOE IP has been ramping up production, available hot cell space to process Ac-225 has been a limiting factor. In the 1990s, Brookhaven National Laboratory metallurgical hot cells were shut down. Those hot cells were dormant until 2018, when an $8.5 million refurbishment project brought them back to life. The renovation included retrofitting the obsolete hot cell facility and labs to create a new All-Purpose (AP) Hot Cell facility to enhance BNL Isotope Program processing capabilities.

The AP Hot Cells will be used predominantly to process irradiated thorium targets for Ac-225 production. These AP hot cells double the number of Ac-225 processing sites for DOE IP, providing highly sought-after processing redundancy. The co-location of Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer (BLIP) and the AP Hot cells enables a more efficient path toward larger Ac-225 batch sizes, a refined production path without the logistics of involving multiple labs and transporting the targets. The renovation of the AP Hot Cells was completed in March 2023, and the BNL Medical Isotope Research and Production Program (MIRP) successfully processed its first irradiated thorium target – and shipped Ac-225 to customers.

The goal of the Tri-Lab effort is to meet the growing worldwide demand for Ac-225 for direct and actinium-225/bismuth-213 generator applications. With the AP Hot Cells, DOE can provide a supply of Ac-225 to support clinical trials, as well as working toward supporting the market demands of approved therapies.

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