Thorium – A new abundant energy source

HANOI, VIETNAM – Media OutReach – 20 January 2022 – At
the “Science for Life” symposium launched on January 19, ahead of the
VinFuture Prize Award Ceremony, Professor Gérard Albert Mourou who won
Nobel Physics in 2018 said that he is researching thorium, an abundant
resource that could help humans solve the energy problem for up to
20,000 years.

Panelists
discussing the future of energy during the VinFuture Sci-Tech Week in Vietnam

Thorium – Future energy?

The professor, who is also a member
of the VinFuture Prize Council, said that Thorium was being studied to
replace Uranium in nuclear power production. If successful, this will be an
effective solution for the depletion of energy sources.

According to Prof. Mourou, Thorium
has three advantages. The first is its abundance in nature. “Compared to
other power production’s inputs, if Carbon is one unit, Uranium is five, then
Thorium is up to 1 million units,” he said.

 

Second, Thorium produces much
less waste than Uranium. And thirdly, the life cycle of toxic materials of
Thorium is very short compared to Uranium.

“That is why it is an opportunity
for us in the field of nuclear energy. This is an area that we had never
explored before and we can now. The energy source can meet the needs of 10
billion people for a period of 10,00-20,000 years,” Prof, Mourou
said.

Study on new energy sources is now
an urgent mission. This is one of the reasons ahead of the VinFuture
Prize Award Ceremony, there was a session on new energy, with the
participation of many leading scientists.

Attendees included Professor
Richard Henry Friend (University of Cambridge, UK), Chairman of the VinFuture
Prize Council, Professor Nguyễn Thục Quyên (University of California, US),
Co-Chair of the VinFuture Prize Pre-Screening Committee, Professor Antonio
Facchetti (Northwestern University), Professor Gérard Albert Mourou, winner of
the 2018 Nobel Physics Prize, and Sir Kostya S.Novoselov, winner of the 2010
Nobel Physics Prize.

Excited from solar power solution 

At the event, Professor Sir Richard
Henry Friend said that the mission was an extremely necessary
and difficult task, emphasizing the importance of new energy.

Fortunately, it is
something science and technology can solve, he added.

“Ten years ago, the message to
reduce net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 was considered as nonsense. But
now, with the advancement of science and technology, it is possible,” Professor
Friend said.

“Science and technology have
reduced costs. Back in 2010, the cheapest form of energy was coal and nuclear
power, and a small part was wind power.

“Ten years later, the costs of
solar power reduced sharply, much more than the most optimistic
person ever thought.”

 

Solar power is also an energy
source attracting the attention of many scientists at the talk. If Professor
Antonio Facchetti was excited with solar energy, Professor Sir Kostya
S.Novoselov, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Physics Prize, turned his attention
to storage options to improve the efficiency of renewable energy sources.

Of which, graphene – the material
that brought Professor Novoselov the 2010 Nobel Physics Prize – is one of the
optimal solutions.

“Solar power integrated with
storage batteries can be optimally exploited, greatly impacting on energy
efficiency,” the professor said.

“Modern batteries have complex
structures and designs, but their efficiency depends on power
generation. Our research is not limited to this metamaterial (graphene)
but many other materials.”

Meanwhile, Professor Nguyễn Thục
Quyên (University of California, US) said that each country must use its own
strengths to create its own energy source.

“For example, Việt Nam has a
long coastline, with a lot of sunshine in the Central region, which
has the advantage of wind power, so this is a strength to take advantage
of,” said the Chairman of the VinFuture Prize Pre-Screening Committee.

At the “Science for Life”
symposium held on January 19, there were two more sessions on the Future of
Health and the Future of Artificial Intelligence, with the participation of
many leading scientists in the world, notably Professor Katalin Kariko, who built
the foundation for the COVID-19 vaccine’s mRNA technology, greatly contributing
to the global fight against the pandemic.

At 8:10pm local time on January 20,
the Inaugural Award Ceremony of the Global Science and Technology VinFuture Prize
will be held at the Hà Nội Opera House. The Ceremony is to be streamed live on
VTV1, digital platforms of VTV and VinFuture, and international media
platforms such as CNN, CNBC, Euronews and TechNode.

 

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