CNNC loads medical cobalt-60 into reactors 

Updated: 2017-04-21

China's first batch of medical cobalt-60 was loaded into nuclear reactors managed by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on April 15, and the medical cobalt-60 products are expected to be launched to the market in 2019.

Similar to the "heart" for gamma knife (γ-knife), medical cobalt-60 can be utilized for treating tumors with precise radiotherapy.

The milestone marks CNNC bringing the technology to China to produce medical cobalt-60, and will end China's long-term dependence on importing the material. 

The Canadian research reactor currently used for producing medical cobalt-60 will be decommissioned soon, and the Argentine heavy water reactor units previously used have been shut down for reconstruction, which has resulted in an enormous shortage of medical cobalt-60. 

For years, CNNC has worked on the research and producing of cobalt-60 radiation source, and its self-developed industrial cobalt-60 has been in application in 2009, emitting radiation of over 5,000 curies so far.

Besides, the maintenance period of Qinshan heavy water reactor has been extended to 24 months, to guarantee the specific activity of cobalt-60 to meet medical demands, while building solid foundations for China to be able to produce the material in the future.