China makes a major breakthrough in obtaining kg-level molybdenum isotopes
CNNC, PUBLISHED 30.10.2023
The Research Institute of Physical and Chemical Engineering of Nuclear Industry/Company (IPCE) of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has recently succeeded in obtaining, for the first time, kilogram-level molybdenum-100 isotopes with abundance of 99%.
The remarkable achievement was made through independent research and development, and marks a major breakthrough in the independent supply of molybdenum isotope key material in China.
The breakthrough has changed the situation the country completely relied on imports of molybdenum isotopes for a long time and indicates that China has reached the world's leading level in the field of high-abundance stable isotope research, making it one of the few countries that can obtain molybdenum isotopes in bulk.
The molybdenum (Mo) isotope has a wide application prospect in nuclear medicine, basic physics, advanced nuclear fuel and other research fields. In the field of nuclear medicine, high-abundance molybdenum-98 and molybdenum-100 isotopes are pre-nuclides for producing radioactive isotope molybdenum-99, which further decays to produce technetium-99m, currently the most widely used diagnostic radionuclides in nuclear medicine.
In the field of basic physics, high abundance molybdenum-100 isotopes are applied to neutrino-free double beta decay experiments, which is an important frontier research topic in current international particle physics and nuclear physics, and is of great significance in exploring the fundamental properties of neutrinos and revealing the processes of the universe's evolution.
In the field of advanced nuclear fuel research, the melting point of depleted molybdenum-95 is 760°C higher than that of the mainstream nuclear fuel cladding material - zirconium, and so can be used for producing high-temperature resistant nuclear fuel components, substantially improve the safety performance of nuclear fuel components and provide protection for safe and green development of nuclear power.
In order to meet domestic demand and change the situation of long-term dependence on imports and insufficient supply of molybdenum isotope materials, the CNNC scientific research team, relying on its nearly 30 years of continuous research and development experiences, have carried out bold innovation, made breakthroughs in the key technology of isotope separation, and for the first time obtained the kilogram-level abundance 99% molybdenum-100 isotope products, which has filled the gap in the domestic technical field and laid a solid foundation for protecting people's health, promoting scientific and technological progress, and improving the safety of nuclear power.
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