Gujarat should get the establishment of a medical isotope reactor in PPP mode

The Indian government plans to locate the country’s first nuclear research reactor dedicated to manufacturing medical isotopes or radiopharmaceuticals in Gujarat, a senior official from the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Atomic Energy Commission has said. atomic energy (AEC).

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in May 2020 the establishment of such a reactor in public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

“Kakrapar in Gujarat is being evaluated as a potential site for this reactor,” KN Vyas, DAE Secretary and AEC Chairman, told IANS.

“About 20 potential investors from India and abroad have shown interest in the PPP reactor for manufacturing medical isotopes. Detailed design is underway,” he added.

The proposed facility complex will be one of the largest isotope production/processing facilities in the world by volume. It will be the first PPP of its kind in the world.

The Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) designs the reactor with a capacity of between 40 and 60 MW depending on the demand for medical isotopes.

India has built research reactors of 40 to 100 MW. But the last research reactor was built in 1984. So new costs would have to be calculated, Vyas told IANS.

At an informal pre-RFP consultation session held in April 2021, participants represented companies across the nuclear medicine value chain, such as nuclear medicine, pharmaceuticals , healthcare, medical device and nuclear reactor equipment suppliers from the United States and Canada. , Argentina, Russia, France, UK and others and some Indian suppliers.

According to the government, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will assume responsibility for the construction of the reactor, including the initial capital expenditure for construction.

It is expected that the private partner can obtain a high return on the capital invested.

According to Vyas, the proposed reactor is designed to maximize irradiation capacity, and therefore a large amount of a variety of radioisotopes must be produced in the reactor.

“The majority of the isotopes are for medical use. In addition, some of the isotopes would also have an industrial use. According to an internal assessment, it is expected that with this research reactor it will be possible to meet all medical isotope needs in the country,” Vyas told IANS.

“In addition, there will be considerable opportunities for the export of radioisotopes. It is planned to have a complex of processing facilities with the reactor. This would be the largest facility for the production and processing of radioisotopes (in terms of production volume) in the world,” he added.

Currently, NPCIL has two 220 MW pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) and one 700 MW at Kakrapar.

Another 700 MW reactor (KAPP-4) is under construction.

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