99Mo/(99m)Tc separation: an assessment of technology options

Nucl Med Biol. 2013 Feb;40(2):167-76. doi: 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2012.10.005. Epub 2012 Nov 9.


Several strategies for the effective separation of (99m)Tc from (99)Mo have been developed and validated. Due to the success of column chromatographic separation using acidic alumina coupled with high specific activity fission (99)Mo (F (99)Mo) for production of (99)Mo/(99m)Tc generators, however, most technologies until recently have generated little interest. The reduced availability of F (99)Mo and consequently the shortage of (99)Mo/(99m)Tc column generators in the recent past have resurrected interest in the production of (99)Mo as well as (99m)Tc by alternate routes. Most of these alternative production processes require separation techniques capable of providing clinical grade (99m)Tc from low specific activity (99)Mo or irradiated Mo targets. For this reason there has been renewed interest in alternate separation routes. This paper reviews the reported separation technologies which include column chromatography, solvent extraction, sublimation and gel systems that have been traditionally used for the fabrication of (99)Mo/(99m)Tc generator systems. The comparative advantage, disadvantage, and technical challenges toward adapting the emerging requirements are discussed. New developments such as solid-phase column extraction, electrochemical separation, extraction chromatography, supported liquid membrane (SLM) and thermochromatographic techniques are also being evaluated for their potential application in the changed scenario of providing (99m)Tc from alternate routes. Based on the analysis provided in this review, it appears that some proven separation technologies can be quickly resurrected for the separation of clinical grade (99m)Tc from macroscopic levels of reactor or cyclotron irradiated molybdenum targets. Furthermore, emerging technologies can be developed further to respond to the expected changing modes of (99m)Tc production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Fractionation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Molybdenum / chemistry
  • Molybdenum / isolation & purification*
  • Radiochemistry
  • Radioisotopes / chemistry
  • Radioisotopes / isolation & purification*
  • Technetium / chemistry
  • Technetium / isolation & purification*


  • Radioisotopes
  • Technetium
  • Molybdenum