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A plan is underway to make medical isotopes at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron in Saskatoon. ((CBC))

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are planning to use the synchrotron to develop medical isotopes without a nuclear reactor.

A group at the Saskatoon-based university announced Monday that the synchrotron — known as the Canadian Light Source — will be one of four projects around Canada receiving part of a $35-million federal fund.

Concerns about Canada's isotope supply were raised over the past two years after the nuclear facility in Chalk River, Ont., ran into problems that forced a shutdown.

Some health authorities around Canada had to ration their isotopes until supplies improved. With the reactor due to close in five years, the need for alternatives is strong, the National Research Council says.

According to the NRC, which is backing the synchrotron demonstration project, it will look at the feasibility of using an electron linear accelerator to produce molybdenum-99, which is the "parent isotope" of technetium-99m — a mainstay of nuclear medicine.

The NRC says the new method doesn't pose any security or nuclear proliferation concerns because, unlike a nuclear reactor, it requires no weapons-grade uranium.

The synchrotron, which is located on the University of Saskatchewan campus, uses powerful beams of focused light to examine matter on the atomic level.

The federal government is providing $12 million to the isotope project, while the Saskatchewan government is contributing $2 million.