MOSCOW, September 5 (Itar-Tass) —— An international conference on isotopes opened at the Moscow-based International Trade Centre on Monday. More than 500 experts from 31 world nations are taking part.
The conference that will last till September 8 will be the seventh such conference and the fact that Russia was chosen as its venue testifies to its high authority in the global nuclear community, said Mikhail Batkov, the director of Rosatom’s Radiation Technologies program. “Russia is one of the founders of the isotope industry,” he said.
The conference’s organizers are the World Council of Isotopes (WCI), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK-CEN), the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO), and a number of other world’s leading isotope manufacturers.
Addressing an opening ceremony, Rosatom’s head Sergei Kiriyenko such conferences bring together the world’s best experts in the industry.
He described nuclear medicine as a trademark of the isotope industry. “Tens if not hundreds of human lives have been saved thanks to the use of isotopes in diagnostic and medical procedures,” he stressed. Isotopes have helped to make more than 30 million diagnoses, he noted and added that nuclear medicine will only grow in the years to come. In his words, the capital intensity in the nuclear medicine sector is now 12 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to further grow to 68 billion U.S. dollars, or by more than five times. In this connection, he said that the isotope industry is not merely a scientific and research area but also a dynamically developing business, and Russia has a strong foothold in this business. Thus, according to Kiriyenko, thanks to Russia the global demand for molybdenum-99, a highly important isotope, will soon be completely met.
Molybdenum-99 is produced at just a few nuclear plants across the globe. Until recently, two such plants, in the Netherlands and in Canada, have been saturating 85 percent of the global demand for molybdenum-99. Another three plans, two in France and one in Belgium, have accounted for the rest 15 percent. According to experts, the situation on the world molybdenum market has dramatically changed after an obsolete plant was shut down in Canada leading to molybdenum-99 shortages.
In the mean time, Rosatom experts believe the shortage may be covered by a molybdenum project that is being implemented in the Russian city of Dimitrovgrad in the Ulyanovsk region. According to Kiriyenko, a molybdenum production facility at the Dimitrovgrad-based Research Institute of Nuclear Reactors is expected to reach its design capacity in 2012. When the unit’s second phase is commissioned, Russia’s share of the global molybdemun-99 market will go up to 25-30 percent, and further on to 33-38 percent in foreseeable perspective. Currently, Rosatom’s enterprises account for 22 percent of the world’s entire industrial isotope output.
The conferences on isotopes have been held every three years in various countries across the globe since 1995. The last such conference was held in 2008 in Seoul, South Korea.