The article also mentions BNCT projects in Japan, western Europe (Netherlands), U.S. and Argentina, but neglects to mention the ones in Finland, Sweden, Italy, Czech Rep. and S.Korea, as well as smaller projects in Egypt and Australia.
(...here in Canada we're still doing exactly 'zero').
NUCLEONICS WEEK AUGUST 18, 2005
Taiwan research reactor lifetime may be extended for 10 years
Taiwan's sole university research reactor may be relicensed
for an extended lifetime in five years to support work
on cancer research, according to scientists at the National
Tsinghua University (NTHU) in Hsinchu.
NTHU has the only nuclear science and engineering faculty
on Taiwan. In one research program, its experts are working
with Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) toward an eventual
uprate of Taipower's six operating LWRs (NW, 11 Aug., 1).
The 2-MW (thermal) Tsinghua Open Pool Reactor
(THOR), a Triga unit, went critical in 1961. Its license expires
in five years, according to NTHU officials, who said it may
be possible for the license to be extended for 10 more years.
According to experts at Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council
(AEC), during the 1990s THOR was underutilized. As part of
a plan to enhance the Nuclear Science College at NTHU, a
program was launched in 1999 to use the reactor in an
expanding international collaboration for cancer treatment.
Now, THOR is used more than half the time for medical
research and applications and about two days a week for
production of iodine-131. The reactor generates about half
of the I-131 used for medical applications in Taiwan, NTHU officials said.
Boron neutron beam work
The reactor's fortunes in the future may be linked to
international developments in boron neutron capture therapy
(BNCT), a method first tested during the 1960s and then
abandoned for two decades. Beginning in Japan in the 1980s,
BNCT was further developed and is currently being funded
by the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC),
as well as by research centers in Argentina and the U.S.
The therapy relies on boron-10 to capture low energy
neutrons, which in turn results in release of alpha particles
and the high-energy isotope lithium-7. Patients who have
absorbed B-10, an isotope that is transported into cancer
cells, are subjected to tumor irradiation to prompt neutron
capture by B-10. That results in extremely localized exposure
of the cancer cells to the B-10 daughter products.
In 1999, NTHU launched a five-year program to build a
world-class epithermal neutron beam facility at THOR for
use in BNCT, funded by 115-million New Taiwan Dollars
(U.S.$4-million) from Taiwan's National Science Council.
Should the BNCT program continue to develop in Taiwan
and worldwide, it will factor into a decision by NTHU and
AEC whether to extend THOR's lifetime after 2010, university officials said.
Scientists at NTHU are keen to keep the reactor licensed.
According to NTHU's long-term plan, the faculty of the
Engineering & System Science Department of NTHU's
Nuclear Science College is expected to be increased from
about 30 today to 45 in 2012. During the same period, the
department projects an expansion of its doctoral student
population from about 75 to 150, and of master's degree
candidates from about 175 to 200. It also expects the number
of post-doctoral researchers to increase from a handful
currently to about 50.-Mark Hibbs, Hsinchu
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