The NRC issued us a construction permit, the first such permit to be issued since the 1980s, in 2016 after thorough review of the application, allowing us to begin planning the constructing our future isotope production facility. We chose Janesville as our new headquarters and began to work toward having our production facilities constructed there while our systems and manufacturing division remained in the Madison area. In the same year, the team completed another unprecedented neutron production run, and we received a grant to develop a second-generation neutron generator for N-ray. We also received a grant to develop NEMESIS, a mobile neutron generator capable of standoff detection of IEDs.
In 2018, we secured funding to develop nuclear fuel inspection systems utilizing our core neutron generator technology and delivered the first neutron generator to our Mo-99 production facility. We also broke ground on our imaging center in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, a first-of-its-kind X-ray and neutron radiography vendor using our in-development third-generation neutron generator in lieu of a nuclear fission reactor.
In 2019, we received 91 acres of land in Janesville and promptly broke ground on our first medical isotope production facility. Once complete, the 43,000 square foot facility will be home to eight of our accelerator-based medical isotope production systems, with the expected capacity to produce over one-third of global demand for the potentially lifesaving medical isotope, molybdenum-99.
In the same year, we also performed another joint test of our isotope production system, running the neutron generator for 5.5 days (132 hours) with a neutron yield 10% higher than expected and an uptime higher than 99%. During further testing of the isotope production system, we set a new record for neutron output in a sustained fusion reaction. Our neutron generator’s output exceeded the previous record, set over 30 years ago, by nearly 25 percent, making our fusion neutron generators the strongest sustained fusion neutron source on Earth.
Near the end of 2019, we created a new division of our company, SHINE Therapeutics, to research the production and commercialization of medical isotopes with applications in cancer and disease treatment in addition to Mo-99, such as lutetium-177 (Lu-177). In Fitchburg, we completed construction on our imaging center, hosting a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the one-year anniversary of the facility’s groundbreaking. Shortly thereafter, our neutron imaging system produced its first Category I neutron image, the highest measurable image quality as defined by ASTM International.
In early 2020, the imaging center became open for business as construction began on our new office space and production facility, Heliopolis, in Fitchburg, Wisconsin adjacent to the site. Ground was also broken on the new SHINE headquarters and production facility in Janesville. Heliopolis would open later that year.
2021 – Beginning of Phase III
In 2021, we announced our plans for a second isotope production facility in the Netherlands and a second neutron imaging facility on the West Coast of the United States. We also were awarded a grant from the DOE funding our development of a plasma window to increase our fusion neutron generators’ strength one hundredfold as part of the Galvanizing Advances in Market-Aligned Fusion for an Overabundance of Watts (GAMOW) program. This performance increase is expected to enable us to tackle the large-scale nuclear transmutation necessary for the upcoming phases of our mission and accelerated testing of emerging fusion reactor materials and subsystems critical to the development of reliable and efficient fusion reactors that produce net positive electricity with no carbon footprint or long-lived waste products.