Agreement marks first step for production in Europe US-based Westinghouse Electric Company and France’s state-owned power company and nuclear operator EDF have signed a memorandum of understanding to produce the Cobalt-60 radioactive isotope in pressurised water reactor units owned and operated by EDF in France.

EDF and Westinghouse will begin a feasibility assessment and target an anticipated Cobalt-59 load date in the late 2020s with the first Cobalt-60 harvest in the early 2030s.

Westinghouse said the MoU marks the first step for production in Europe of Cobalt-60 for medical uses.

Cobalt-60, a synthetic radioactive isotope of cobalt, is produced artificially in nuclear reactors. It has a number of applications including the inspection of materials to reveal internal structure, flaws, or foreign objects and in the sterilisation of food. In medicine, it is used to treat cancer and to sterilise medical equipment.

Cobalt-60 is produced by irradiating the stable isotope cobalt-59 with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. Under the terms of the MoU, Westinghouse would manufacture Cobalt-59 capsule fuel assembly inserts for EDF to manage in its PWRs to generate activated Cobalt-60. Westinghouse would manage commercialisation of the Cobalt-60.

Date: Tuesday, 07 December 2021
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