Department of Energy Announces $6 Million for Isotope R&D

DOE Seal

DOE Seal

Selections Span Research Areas of Advanced Isotope Enrichment, Novel Accelerator Design and Targetry, and Radiochemistry and Separations

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $6 million in funding for 12 awards across eight efforts to advance research in isotope enrichment, targetry, and separations. This funding is part of a key federal program that produces critical isotopes otherwise unavailable or in short supply in the U.S.

Isotopes, or variations of the same elements that have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons, have unique properties that make them powerful in medical diagnostic and treatment applications. They are also essential for applications in quantum information science, nuclear power, national security, and more.

“These research activities are foundational to our efforts to ensure the availability of isotopes critical to Americans’ health, prosperity, and security,” said Jehanne Gillo, Director of the DOE Isotope Program. “A vibrant research program in isotope production, enrichment, and radiochemistry is key to promoting U.S. independence from foreign supply chains of enabling isotopes.”

Funded awards will develop new separation schemes for purifying rare isotope feedstock for medical isotope production; design a novel compact particle accelerator designed specifically for isotope production in university or hospital settings; discover new radiochemistry approaches for isotope separations from irradiated targets with the goal of enhancing availability and purity; investigate liquid centrifugation for the enrichment of isotopes important to molten salt reactors; and advance automation of isotope isolation applications. 

The current awards include five universities and four DOE national laboratories, with most of the awards being made to collaborative teams where universities and national laboratories work together. Funding for the two-year awards, which were selected on a competitive basis by peer review, totals $6 million in Fiscal Year 2024 dollars. A list of the awards can be found here.

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.