Department of Energy awards Beloit company $37 million to support medical isotope production | Technology

Department of Energy awards Beloit company $37 million to support medical isotope production | Technology

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The federal Department of Energy has awarded $37 million to help a Wisconsin company manufacture radioactive isotopes used in millions of medical procedures.

Two grants announced Friday will help NorthStar Medical Technologies of Beloit increase commercial production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which decays into an isotope used to detect cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

NorthStar is one of five companies working with the DOE to produce Mo-99 without the use of highly enriched uranium, which is typically imported and produces long-lasting toxic waste and can be used in nuclear weapons if stolen.

“Establishing a domestic supply for a whole host of products, including this critical medical isotope, is good for our national security and good for job creation here at home,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement.

A NorthStar spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Dairyland CEO Brent Ridge said the plant will help meet the demands of the utility, which provides generation for about 500,000 customers of municipal and cooperative utilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

This spring NorthStar installed two particle accelerators at its $80 million Beloit facility that will be used to remove a neutron from the concentrated mineral.

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Mellisa Cullwell