The Kursk NPP sent the first batch of valuable cobalt-60 isotope

The Kursk NPP sent the first batch of sterilizing cobalt-60, which is widely used in many industries and medicine, to the Leningrad NPP for the preparation of commodity lots and shipment to the customer. This is a key event in achieving the strategic goal of Rosatom State Corporation to create new products for the Russian and international markets.

“Today, Rosenergoatom provides more than 20% of the world's consumption of cobalt-60, which is used for sterilization of medical devices, food disinfection, and material modification. Thanks to shipments from the Kursk NPP, Leningrad NPP and Smolensk NPP, Rosenergoatom plans to achieve a 30% share of the world market this year,” said Artur Miskov, head of the Isotope Business Development Project Office.

From the accumulated amount of cobalt-60 in the first batch of the Kursk NPP, at least 15,000 cubic meters of medical products can be sterilized.

“The possibility of producing isotopes in energy channel reactors has shown that the atom serves people not only with its energy component. The resulting cobalt-60 is used in the production of gamma radiation sources. Sealed cobalt-60 gamma sources used in research and commercial gamma irradiation facilities have high commercial value and strong demand and are widely used in many countries around the world. The production of cobalt-60 in the RBMK-1000 reactor plant is an activity that is regulated and licensed by the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service. All work is carried out to ensure a high level of nuclear and radiation safety,” notes Alexander Uvakin, Deputy Director General - Director of the Kursk NPP.

Kursk NPP began to develop a new type of activity for itself in 2018. After the development of the relevant safety justifications and obtaining permissions from the Regulator, 27 rods of additional cobalt absorbers (SDPK) were loaded into the reactor plant of power unit No. 4 in stages. And since 2022, SDPKs are being loaded into the reactor plant of power unit No. 3, which will allow increasing the production of cobalt-60 at the facilities of the Kursk NPP by 2 times. Each additional absorber is 144 nickel-plated natural cobalt-59 capsules. In the reactor, natural cobalt under the influence of neutrons is converted into a new isotope - cobalt-60.

Based on the results of a whole range of works to prepare for the unloading of cobalt-60, domestic equipment for handling cobalt-60 was designed, manufactured, installed and tested. Now at the Kursk NPP, valuable material is being unloaded from the reactor of power unit No. 4, which is sent in specialized containers to the next processing stage for delivery to the customer.
The volumes of cobalt-60 planned for production at the Kursk NPP are contracted for the entire period of operation of power units No. 3 and No. 4.

In addition to the production of cobalt-60, work is being carried out at the Kursk NPP to provide the possibility of producing the most demanded medical isotopes: iodine-131, iodine-125, samarium-153, molybdenum-99 and lutetium-177 for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

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Providing the availability of nuclear medicine technologies in the regions of the Russian Federation, including popular radiopharmaceuticals, is of great social importance, as it is directly related to healthcare measures aimed at combating oncological and other common diseases in the country. The implementation of Rosatom's projects for the production of cobalt-60 and medical isotopes is aimed primarily at improving the quality of life of the population, protecting its health, and also at developing Russian industry.

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