Stable Isotopes: our commitment to continual development
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Since 1990 Stable Isotopes, a wholly owned business unit of URENCO, has employed URENCO's centrifuge technology to separate isotopes of other elements for a number of commercial purposes, supporting the medical industry and other key industrial applications. Although this is not a major part of URENCO’s business in purely financial terms, it is of considerable value from commercial, social and environmental perspectives.
Based at Almelo in the Netherlands, the existence and success of stable isotopes is testament to our commitment to continual development. While the separation of elements other than uranium has presented many new challenges, the development URENCO has committed to stable isotopes is now delivering value in two specific segments of the medical market: diagnostics and brachytherapy. Thanks to URENCO’s isotopes, images can be obtained via a gamma camera or a PET scan in nuclear diagnostics. Gamma cameras can accurately detect disease progression and staging in vital organs. URENCO is also producing materials that prove to be useful in an application of brachytherapy, the procedure of using temporary irradiation very close to an area of disease, in particular, cancer.
Industrial applications centre around nuclear and non-destructive markets. Zinc, depleted in the isotope Zn64, is widely used in nuclear reactors to reduce radiation levels to workers. Iridium and Selenium isotopes are the precursors for radioactive sources used in non-destructive test rig equipment.