ORNL's Enriching Isotopes Again

Y-12 Calutrons

Y-12 Calutrons

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will once again be producing an array of nearly pure, stable, nonradioactive isotopes with uses ranging from treating cancer and medical imaging to keeping airports safe.

Brian Egle told Friends of ORNL last week that ORNL is reestablishing production of enriched stable isotopes for various applications as a result of a new program funded by the Office of Nuclear Physics in the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The new Enriched Stable Isotope Production Facility on the main ORNL campus combines an innovative method of electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) developed at ORNL in the past eight years with conventional gas centrifuge technology.

The aim of the program — carried out by Egle, Adam Stevenson, Clint Ausmus, and Kevin Hart — is to produce efficiently and reliably kilogram quantities of target materials enriched in stable isotopes. Many of these target materials go to ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor, where they are irradiated with neutrons and turned into radioisotopes.

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