Westinghouse Electric Company and EDF have signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to produce Cobalt-60 radioisotope in select pressurised water reactors (PWR) owned and operated by EDF in France. This MoU marks the first step for production in Europe of Cobalt-60 for medical uses.

“We are delighted to partner with EDF in this key agreement that will expand and strengthen the global Cobalt-60 supply chain,” said Patrick Fragman, Westinghouse President & CEO during the signing ceremony at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris. “We are fully committed to leverage nuclear energy to improve global health.”

Cobalt-60 plays a critical role in the safety of medical devices and reduces pathogens in other products. It is also used in the treatment of certain brain cancers.

“Production of Cobalt-60 in EDF nuclear power plants shows that, in addition to its role of production of carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy can also help on global health, this is part of our contribution to the general interest," said Cédric Lewandowski, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice-President, Nuclear and Thermal.

Cobalt-60 is produced by exposing Cobalt-59, a stable isotope, to neutrons. Under the MoU, Westinghouse would manufacture Cobalt-59 capsule fuel assembly inserts (COBAs) for EDF to manage in its PWRs to generate activated Cobalt-60. Westinghouse would manage commercialisation of the Cobalt-60. 

EDF and Westinghouse said they will initiate a Feasibility Assessment and target an anticipated Cobalt-59 load date in the late 2020s with the first Cobalt-60 harvest in the early 2030s.

Photo: Cédric Lewandowski, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice- President, Nuclear and Thermal (LEFT) and Patrick Fragman, Westinghouse President & CEO (Photo: Business Wire)