Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 2, 2022

Simulation of cobalt-60 production in research reactors using OpenMC Monte Carlo code

  • Abdulrahim Judaibi ORCID logo EMAIL logo and Abdelfattah Y. Soliman ORCID logo
From the journal Kerntechnik


Cobalt-60 is an artificial radioisotope with a wide range of applications in many industries for its high intensity gamma-rays and longer half-life. It may be produced in research reactors from the stable isotope cobalt-59 by neutron activation when a fission neutron is absorbed in the Co-59 nucleus. The ETRR-2 research reactor is designed with an in-core neutron flux trap that accommodates space for placement of an irradiation box, which makes it suitable for the production of radioisotopes as an in-core fixed facility. This simulation study compares the production yield of Co-60 for different Co-59 pencil configurations within the irradiation box inside the in-core neutron flux trap. IAEA reference for Co-60 specifications was used to set the comparison criteria for generating different configurations. Reactor geometry and calculations were carried out using OpenMC Monte Carlo code to obtain the effective multiplication factor Keff, the flux distribution, and the production yield of Co-60 with respect to time. Results show that the ETTR-2 is capable of producing Co-60 with a specific activity of 83.89 Ci g−1 in 263 ± 14 days following the placement of eight Co-59 pencils with 0.77 cm diameter, 32 cm in height, and 74.506 g each. It was also shown that a higher production rate may be achieved by decreasing the diameter of the pencils and increasing their number while Co-59 mass is kept constant.

Corresponding author: Abdulrahim Judaibi, Nuclear Engineering Department, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box: 80204, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia; and FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Campus Jülich, Heinrich-Mußmann-Str. 1, 52428 Jülich, Germany, E-mail:

  1. Author contribution: Abdulrahem Judaibi: Conceptualization, Methodology, Software, Validation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing – original draft, Project administration. Abdelfattah Y. Soliman: Conceptualization, Methodology, Software, Validation, Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing – original draft, Supervision.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.


Aziz, M. (2004). Monte Carlo simulation of the ETRR-2 research reactor using the MCNP Code. Kerntechnik 69: 122–126, in Google Scholar

Bissani, M. and O’Kelly, D. (2006). Joint assessment of ETRR-2 research reactor operations program, capabilities, and facilities. Livermore, CA (United States): Lawrence Livermore National Lab.(LLNL).10.2172/899397Search in Google Scholar

IAEA, V. (2003). IAEA-TECDOC-1340, manual for reactor produced radioisotopes.Search in Google Scholar

Kann, B.H., James, B.Y., Stahl, J.M., Bond, J.E., Loiselle, C., Chiang, V.L., Bindra, R.S., Gerrard, J.L., and Carlson, D.J. (2016). The impact of cobalt-60 source age on biologically effective dose in high-dose functional Gamma Knife radiosurgery. J. Neurosurg. 125: 154–159, in Google Scholar

Romano, P.K., Horelik, N.E., Herman, B.R., Nelson, A.G., Forget, B., and Smith, K. (2015). OpenMC: a state-of-the-art Monte Carlo code for research and development. Ann. Nucl. Energy 82: 90–97, in Google Scholar

Silk, M. (1970). A pulsed neutron determination of the thermal neutron absorption cross-section of cobalt-59. JNuE 24: 43–49, in Google Scholar

Slack, J., Norton, J., and Malkoske, G. (2003). Cobalt-60 production in CANDU power reactors. Presented at the symposium on nuclear energy—SIEN, pp. 22–25.Search in Google Scholar

Xoubi, N., Darda, S.A., Soliman, A.Y., and Abulfaraj, T. (2020). An investigative study of enrichment reduction impact on the neutron flux in the in-core flux-trap facility of MTR research reactors. Nucl. Eng. Technol. 52: 469–476, in Google Scholar

Received: 2021-09-03
Published Online: 2022-02-02
Published in Print: 2022-04-26

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 11.6.2023 from
Scroll to top button