Belgium is developing a pioneer project to recycle uranium from medical applications and reuse the new isotopes.
Isotopes for medical application and their reuse
Medical diagnostic imaging and nuclear medical applications that treat diseases such as cancer use radioactive isotopes, especially molybdenum-99 (Mo-99). Every year nearly seven million patients all over the world benefit from medical tests that use Mo-99. Belgium is the main productor of this isotope.
Belgium is now developing a novel technology that could turn uranium from medical applications into new isotopes to be used in diagnoses, treatment and research.
Every year nearly seven million patients all over the world benefit from medical tests that use Mo-99
This project, called RECUMO, is a co-operation between the Belgian research center SCK•CEN and Belgium's National Radioelements Institute (IRE). Its implementation will contribute to assuring a safe supply of radioactive isotopes for medical uses.
Over 25% of radioactive isotopes for medical purposes that are used in the world are produced in the BR2 research reactor at SCK•CEN in Mol, Belgium, before undergoing a chemical process at IRE and being administered to patients.
The residues from the chemical process contain various substances, especially highly enriched uranium, that can be recovered. These residues are sotred at the IRE site.
The RECUME is expected to begin operating in 2022. The budget for the construction of the site and its operation until 2038 is 255 million Euros.