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About

Urenco Stable Isotopes, based at Urenco’s facility in Almelo, the Netherlands, employs centrifuge technology to separate isotopes of various elements.

The existence and success of our business is testament to our commitment to continuous development and collaboration with our customers. Using our own centrifuge technology, we produce a variety of very important products for medical, industrial and research applications.

Isotopes in our current portfolio include: cadmium, germanium, iridium, molybdenum, selenium, tellurium, titanium, tungsten, xenon and zinc. We can deliver these isotopes in many different chemical forms such as oxide, metal, gaseous or elemental.

Isotopes

An isotope is an element that has the same number of protons (the same atomic number) but a different number of neutrons in the nucleus (different atomic mass).

Isotopes can either be stable or unstable. Due to their unique properties, stable isotopes are used in a variety of applications, including: medical diagnosis, semiconductor production for electronic devices and research on materials used in nuclear environments. 

Technology

The centrifuge technology used and owned by Urenco is the result of nearly 50 years of continuous development. Due to its versatility, application of the gas centrifuge is not limited to the separation of uranium isotopes alone, it is also utilised for the separation of other isotopes, including: cadmium, germanium, iridium, molybdenum, selenium, tellurium, titanium, tungsten, xenon and zinc.

Gas centrifuges

A gas centrifuge consists of a fast spinning rotor inside a vacuum casing. Gas is fed into the rotor where it is accelerated to the rotational frequency. Gas molecules are then subjected to centrifugal forces induced by the centripetal acceleration.

The centrifugal forces push the heavier molecules closer to the wall of the rotor than the lighter molecules. The gas is then extracted from the centrifuge by a set of gas extraction scoops. The heavier scoop is located near the rotor wall, whereas the lighter scoop is placed towards the centre of the rotor.

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History

In the early 1990s, the production of stable isotopes started as a diversification project at Urenco’s enrichment facility in the Netherlands.

From the beginning, Urenco Stable Isotopes has had significant knowledge and experience in centrifuge technology. Our knowledge in converting gaseous materials and product processing has been continuously developed and our vast experience on handling various materials has been enhanced through the completion of various projects.  

Since the mid-1990s, Urenco Stable Isotopes has operated as an independent business unit of Urenco.

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Future developments

New applications for stable isotopes continue to be developed and Urenco Stable Isotopes is actively engaged in discussions with customers on how to support this growing demand.

One of our key goals is to ensure our customers are involved in our research and development projects from an early stage. This ensures high quality and cost efficient products and solutions.

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