South Africa begins research for new reactor to support molybdenum-99 production | The mighty 790 KFGO

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa’s state-owned nuclear power company, NECSA, launched a tender on Monday to replace its aging nuclear research reactor, Safari 1, and help maintain its position as one of the world’s leading producers of molybdenum-99 used in medical diagnostic imaging.

Molybdenum-99, or Mo-99, is used in millions of diagnostic tests for cancer, heart disease, and other diseases around the world.

NTP Radioisotopes is a subsidiary of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) and uses the 20 megawatt Safari 1 research reactor at Pelindaba, in operation since 1965, to produce Mo-99.

The plant had to be shut down for three months in early 2018 after a hydrogen leak was detected.

It is currently under maintenance, NECSA said, issuing a market request for information (RFI) on Monday, the first step in a bidding process to help gauge the appetite of a preferred potential supplier to build a new multi-use. reactor (MPR).

“The MPR will continue the legacy of producing medical radioisotopes, which are used to treat thousands of cancer patients worldwide,” Loyiso Tyabashe, NECSA Group Chief Executive, said in a statement.

NTP is one of the world’s top four suppliers of medical radioisotopes to the United States, Japan and countries in Europe and the Middle East, NECSA said.

The request for information closes March 10, the company added.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; editing by Jason Neely)

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