Menu

Groundbreaking held for new U.S. Stable Isotope Production and Research Center

East Tennessee has a rich history of producing enriched stable isotopes, and that heritage was reinforced Monday when U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the U.S. Stable Isotope Production and Research Center. The facility is slated to receive $75 million in funding from the “Inflation Reduction Act.”

Between 1945 and 1998, more than 230 enriched stable isotopes were produced at the now-decommissioned calutron facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex. However, those stockpiles are now being depleted, and the U.S. has no existing domestic broad scope enrichment capability.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to help Oak Ridge open the doors of this new center — along with the other projects receiving funding as part of the President’s agenda, here and across our national labs. This funding is a down payment on our clean energy future, and we are excited to see what America will now achieve because of it,” said Granholm (pictured here in a Department of Energy{DOE}/ORNL-provided photo from Monday’s event).

“The construction of a new isotope production facility at ORNL is a historic milestone,” ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia said. “Providing isotopes that can’t be made anywhere else is central to our identity as a national laboratory, and we are fortunate to have some of the most talented experts in the world advancing this capability here at a time of great international need.”

ORNL has spent the past decade designing, researching, developing, and prototyping the two types of isotope separation equipment that SIPRC will employ. The center will be capable of simultaneously enriching multiple stable isotopes from across the periodic table. It’s also been designed with future expansion in mind.

Located on ORNL’s main campus, the new facility (pictured here in another DOE/ORNL-provided drawing) will produce stable isotopes on a large scale, meeting the nation’s increasing demands for isotopes needed in medicine, industry, science and national security. The 64,000-square foot facility will dramatically expand the U.S. isotope enrichment capabilities, reducing dependence on foreign suppliers.

Stay connected with us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Article ideas and other suggestions should be sent to tballard@pyapc.com. Include the name and contact information (phone and email) for follow-up.