Top

    1. What is ARRONAX?
      Arronax is an acronym for Accelerator for Research in Radiochemistry and Oncology in Nantes Atlantique. It is a particle accelerator (cyclotron). ARRONAX is also an allusion to Professor Aronnax, a character in the novel entitled “20,000 leagues under the sea” by Jules Verne (born in Nantes in 1828).
    2. Where is ARRONAX installed?
      This large facility is installed at Saint-Herblain on the outskirts of Nantes, on the campus of the teaching hospital (Hôpital Nord-Laënnec) and the ICO (Institut de Cancérologie de l’Ouest, St-Herblain).
    3. What purpose does ARRONAX serve?
      ARRONAX produces innovative radioisotopes (radioactive atoms) for research in nuclear medicine and research on the effects of radiation on non-living matter and living matter.
    4. What are the fields of application in research?
      The main fields of application in nuclear medicine are diagnosing oncology (imagery by Positron Emission Tomography, PET) and therapeutic oncology (vectorized radiotherapy), as well as PET imagery in cardiology.
      A second key area of research is the study of the effects of radiation on non-living matter (radiolysis, non-destructive analysis of materials, etc.) and living matter (radiobiology, dosimetry, etc.).
    5. Is ARRONAX just like any other cyclotron?
      A combination of several characteristics make ARRONAX a unique facility:
      – 70 MeV (70 million electron-volts) of energy, compared with a maximum of 30 MeV for most of the other cyclotrons used for medical purposes;
      – a maximum intensity of 750 µA (2 X 375 microamperes), compared with 100 µA for most of the other “medical” cyclotrons;
      – the possibility of accelerating protons, deuterons and alpha particles, whereas most of the other “medical” cyclotrons only accelerate protons.
    6. Is ARRONAX dangerous?
      ARRONAX is an accelerator: it contains no “fuel”. This high-power cyclotron produces large amounts of varied radioisotopes, which are thus highly active. These active radioisotopes are not stored on the site but distributed to various different research laboratories. Furthermore, the physical half-lives of these radioisotopes are limited to a few days. Lastly, ARRONAX is protected by a thick concrete shield that blocks any leak while in operation. When it is not in operation, the radiation level drops quickly. Consequently, there is no risk of radioactive release in the long term, even in the event of a failure or a serious accident affecting the machine or the building.
    7. How many medical cyclotrons are there in France?
      There are over 200 cyclotrons used in part or in full for medical purposes in Europe. Most of them have energy and an intensity limited to the production of fluorine-18. In France, there are more than 31 cyclotrons dedicated to the production of radionuclides for nuclear medicine.
    8. Who uses ARRONAX?
      ARRONAX was constructed on the joint initiative of Subatech laboratory and the Oncology and Immunology research center of Nantes (CRCINA), for which it is a major research tool. The cyclotron is open to projects proposed by any interested academic laboratories in Europe and, under certain conditions, to those proposed by industrialists. An international scientific council convenes every year to assess the work done with the cyclotron and advise management on the most promising orientations.