Atomic Alchemy (YC W19) – Manufacturing Nuclear Medicine

Hello, HN.

I’m Thomas Eiden, founder of Atomic Alchemy.

Atomic Alchemy will manufacture nuclear medicine and the radioactive materials used to make it, using several compact nuclear reactors.

These will be the first privately-owned nuclear reactors for nuclear medicine production. They are merely higher-powered versions of previously-licensed reactor designs that currently reside at universities. These reactor designs are passively safe and cannot melt down. With improvements in modeling and simulation that have occurred in the last few years, it is quicker and cheaper than ever to license and construct such a facility. But to be clear—we won’t be manufacturing reactors—we’ll be a chemical/drug manufacturer in the same way that Delta Airlines doesn’t manufacture planes or airports, but is a transportation company.

Before starting Atomic Alchemy, I was the lead reactor core designer at the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory. My main job each operating cycle was to arrange the reactor core in such a way to allow the United States Nuclear Navy to run successful material experiments for their next generation submarines and aircraft carriers. I’ve always been interested in production and efficiency, and the issues currently plaguing nuclear medicine production have been of great interest to me all the way back to when I operated a reactor in college.

Nuclear medicine is used in a wide variety of diagnostic imaging procedures and cancer treatments. The most common procedure is the radiocardiogram to diagnose cardiological issues, and brachytherapy for cancer treatment.

Unbeknownst to many, there is a critical shortage of nuclear medicine worldwide--right now. The main failure in the supply chain is the fact that the entire world’s feedstock for nuclear medicine primarily comes from six government-run reactors, most of which are over 45 years old and will be retired in the next 10 years. Additionally, these government-run reactors are scientific research reactors and are not set up to efficiently produce these materials.

I have a design for a manufacturing facility that combines the entire supply chain, from irradiation, to chemical purification, to medicine production. This will allow Atomic Alchemy to fill the void as more aging reactors are shut down and allow those that remain to focus on their true purpose—science.

Currently, the reactors, chemical purification, and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities are all in separate facilities, sometimes oceans apart. By shrinking the entire supply chain into a single facility, manufacturing costs can be slashed by up to 50%, as regulatory, shipping, and myriad other costs associated with the radioactive material decaying in transit, is reduced.

The market for radioactive feedstock alone is well over a one billion dollar market worldwide, and is constrained by the current supply. As the standard of living abroad continues to improve, developing markets will demand even more nuclear medicine.

Looking forward to your feedback and questions.

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