Medical facility relies on press

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Zevacor Molecular, a healthcare firm that manufactures PET and SPECT radiopharmaceutical products, installed the first and largest commercial 70-million electron volt (MeV) cyclotron dedicated to producing medical isotopes for the global market.

“Each of these drug products have a certain affinity within the body and will preferentially go to the targeted disease,” said Todd Hockemeyer, Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at Zevacor.


The 70 MeV, 140-ton cyclotron is housed in an 11,000-cubic-yard concrete vault with 300 tons of reinforcing steel rod. Manufacturing Strontium 82 requires a lot of energy. Most of the equipment involved in the process is powered pneumatically with compressed air, Zevacor estimates its annual power bill at $1 million, with three-fourths of that energy spent cooling water to keep the cyclotron and targets from overheating.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-1-23-48-pm“The heat from highly purified water used to cool the targets and critical cyclotron components is transferred to another isolated chill system filled with purified water,” Hockemeyer said, “which is then cooled by a chill water system using water from the local utility.”

The cyclotron is housed with six other vaulted areas, each supplied with two separate sets of copper pipes—one for feed water to make the purified water supply and the other to extract the heat. Because purified water is extremely corrosive to copper, the copper pipe does not come in contact with that water. It only goes to the filtration system that purifies the water upon which it is transferred to the target through a PVC line.

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-1-24-01-pm“The integrity of that chilled water system is critical,” Hockemeyer said. “If the cooling system shuts down, so does our cyclotron.”

That’s why Zevacor chose to have Leach and Russel Mechanical install Viega ProPress for copper over soldering.

“We understood how important it was to have highly purified water and a water containment system that’s reliable and doesn’t leak and doesn’t fail,” Hockemeyer said. “The cost of a failure is far in excess of any money we might shave off the installation process because we used welded fittings.”

Zevacor also chose Viega to reduce the danger of contamination and particles in the piping, which can become radioactive and create different problems with hazardous waste water.

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