NIDC Program Literature
The U.S. Department of Energy Isotope Program (DOE IP), managed by the Office of Nuclear Physics, provides a wide range of isotope products and services to customers worldwide. Continuing a long tradition within the DOE and its predecessor organizations, the program is committed to producing and distributing radioisotopes and enriched stable isotopes for research or development purposes; medical diagnoses and therapy; and industrial, homeland security, agricultural, and other useful applications in the national interest.
The program is centrally managed from DOE Headquarters in Germantown, Maryland. The DOE IP maintains isotope production facilities at Argonne, Brookhaven, Idaho, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories. These facilities produce stable and radioactive isotopes in short supply using nuclear reactors, linear accelerators, and other methods.
For the first time since 1998, the United States has an operating stable isotope enrichment capability. The new Enriched Stable Isotope Prototype Plant (ESIPP), funded by the DOE IP and located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), takes an integrated approach to enriched stable isotope production by incorporating both electromagnetic separation and gas centrifuge technology. As a result, a wide range of enriched stable isotopes is now attainable domestically for basic research, medical, national security, and industrial applications.
In addition, the DOE IP owns ~250 stable isotopes spanning 59 elements available through the NIDC product catalog. Most of these were obtained through electromagnetic separation in Manhattan Project-era calutrons. These isotopes have served as feedstock for countless research efforts and applications, and they range in value from less than $1 to tens of thousands of dollars per milligram.
The routine use of radioisotopes in the fields of biology, medicine, and pharmaceuticals has led to safer and more effective diagnoses and treatments of numerous medical conditions, including cancer. As a result, millions of patients worldwide have experienced improved health and quality of life. Through its extensive network of national laboratories and partnering universities, the DOE IP develops, produces, and supplies isotopes that are critical components of these medical diagnostic and treatment options. Particle accelerators, research reactors, medical cyclotrons, and radiochemical processing laboratories are among the facilities that help the program meet this objective.
The DOE IP’s portfolio has grown over time to include more than 35 medically relevant isotopes available through the National Isotope Development Center (NIDC) product catalog, with several more under investigation at universities and national laboratories.
Three DOE national laboratories—Brookhaven, Los Alamos, and Oak Ridge—are making strides toward a robust and reliable supply of actinium-225 (Ac-225) for use in radiotherapy. Funded by the DOE IP, managed by the Office of Science for Nuclear Physics, this “Tri-Lab” effort leverages accelerator capabilities at the Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer and the Isotope Production Facility at Los Alamos with ORNL’s extensive experience with radioisotope processing in a joint effort to produce accelerator-based Ac-225.
The long-term goal of the Tri-Lab effort is to meet the growing worldwide demand for Ac-225 for direct applications and Ac-225/Bi-213 generator applications. With accelerator-based Ac-225 production, the current annual supply could be matched with roughly a week of beam time, presenting an overall higher activity to end-users. This approach finally provides a supply of Ac-225 that can support clinical trials and applications. Visit our actinium-225 page for more information on accelerator-produced Ac-225.