AZI will be bringing highly skilled, highly compensated jobs to the county, with the well founded hope that partners in the medical industry will soon follow, drawn in by the possibility of getting hands on product within minutes, hours, or days, depending on the isotope in question. The venture is proving to be that elusive goal of so many—a win for everyone involved.
Wade showed us around the build site, his pride and humility apparent in equal measure. From outside the building, you cannot tell that the walls are 10’ of poured concrete. The outer wall of the cyclotron chamber is open now, awaiting its arrivel and eventual installation. Looking into this room, you’ll notice the installed crane, necessary to help put together the machine, lifting and adjusting parts well over 10,000 lb. Tubes are built in the concrete around the room, in which wires will carry information to the control room on the other side of the building.
On either side of the room, three round holes open to the vaults that will house the isotopes during irradiation. The cyclotron will emit a beam that travels through those holes to hit a target the size of a quarter. When this part of the process is complete, the isotope will travel through a rabbit shuttle not unlike the drive up tubes at the bank. Using operator controlled machine arms, the isotope will then be washed into a cartridge, from which the wash compound is then extracted. In the most simplistic terms possible, this is what will be happening on a day to day basis once AZI is in operation. Wade and Mark both speak of the process with the practiced ease of an expert.
Cyclotrons come in many sizes, but less than 10% of the USA currently has access to these valuable medical isotopes. To supply the entire nation, 7 large cyclotrons like the one being installed in August at AZI would be required. It’s a growing industry, and for Wade, this is why he came out of retirement to pursue this project.