A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Framatome and Exelon Generation will see the two companies work towards the production of cobalt-60 (Co-60) in pressurised water reactors (PWRs) for medical and industrial uses.

A Co-60 source in use at a sterilisation facility (Image: Framatome)

Under the MoU, which was signed on 23 December, the two companies will cooperate on technology development and assess the feasibility and economics of Co-60 production in PWR reactors for industrial and medical purposes as long-term demand continues to grow.

Co-60 is used to sterilise medical devices and is also used in cancer treatment. Most of the world's supply of the isotope is produced by irradiation of naturally occurring cobalt-59 in Candu reactors, mainly in Canada but also in Argentina, China and South Korea. It is also produced in RBMK reactors and the BN-800 fast neutron reactor in Russia.

Exelon Generation and Framatome have been "long-standing partners" and bring together "cost-efficient and reliable solutions from the nuclear industry to also support the development of critical supplies in the healthcare sector," said Frédéric Lelièvre, senior executive vice president of Sales, Regional Platforms and I&C Business Unit at Framatome.

"We produce the most carbon-free energy in the US, yet that is just one part of our commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) values," said Dave Rhoades, Exelon Generation chief nuclear officer. "Today's announcement combines our ESG commitment with our drive to find innovative solutions that benefit the greater good, including utilising cobalt-60 to save lives."

Framatome established Framatome Healthcare in July 2021 to build on its nuclear energy expertise and long-standing commitment in the field of nuclear medicine to advance medical products and services for the healthcare industry. Framatome is owned by the EDF Group (75.5%), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (19.5%) and Assystem (5%).

Exelon Generation operates the USA's largest fleet of nuclear power plants, generating more than 18,700 megawatts from 21 reactors at 12 facilities in Illinois, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.

Westinghouse Electric Company and EDF recently signed an MoU on the production of Co-60 in selected PWRs owned and operated by EDF in France.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Thursday, 06 January 2022
Original article: world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Framatome-and-Exelon-to-explore-Co-60-production