The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) spearheaded the opening of the 50th Atomic Energy Week (AEW) on December 05, 2022, at their Office in Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. 

Carrying the theme “Agham at Teknolohiyang Pangnukleyar: Kabalikat sa Maunlad at Matatag na Kinabukasan”, the five-day celebration aims to highlight the various research and development (R&D) efforts and initiatives of DOST-PNRI towards maximizing the beneficial use of nuclear technologies and applications, including those in the energy sector. 

Serving as the keynote speaker was Franz-Michael Skjold- Mellbin, ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark to the Philippines and Palau as he underscored immediately the valuable contributions of revolutionary nuclear technologies to various fields such as energy, health, and agriculture. He also stressed that a good mix of diversified energy sources such as nuclear, renewables, and energy storage could ensure the abundant, cheap, and reliable energy that all Filipinos deserve.

In his message, Amb. Mellbin pointed out that one of the unfortunate discussions in recent years is a dichotomy of some kind of opposition between different kinds of energy technologies which should have not been in the first place. He added that the future will bring energy technologies in a higher integration than we have seen before and there is a space and a need for different kinds of technologies. 

“Countries want reliable, flexible, secure energy systems, and energy supply and the best way to achieve that is to have flexibility. To have options, to have several kinds of inputs into your energy system. And the future energy systems will consist not only of a variable input but also a much higher degree of system integration. So, it is not just a question of producing electricity but it will also be a question of how do you build a system that stores electricity,” said Amb. Mellbin. 

The diplomat also shared how sector coupling works in his home country, Denmark, when they can produce energy and power at the same time. 

“It (sector coupling) is something my own country, Denmark, has perfected. So that when we produce electricity, we harvest the heat, put it into hot water, heating systems, and centralized cooling systems and distribute it on a massive scale. These kinds of things will be further developed over the next years. We will see many new energy solutions emerging,” shared Amb. Mellbin. 

Amb. Mellbin knows that some energy technologies will be more suitable for certain situations, countries, and energy realities than others but he believes that time will tell what is more suitable for all of us and what kind of mixes we will end upwith. 

“But I am sure that we will see an energy future where nuclear, renewables, sector coupling, and energy storage comes into place together. In a whole system thinking which is necessary to create optimal conditions that will allow you to enjoy abundant, cheap, and reliable energy for all Filipinos and you deserve that,” added Amb. Mellbin.

Furthermore, Amb. Mellbin pointed out that there is no doubt that nuclear research has always gave a great future in any country. He zoned in on key reasons where doing nuclear is not only for socioeconomic benefits but also for tackling the socioeconomic challenges that come with nuclear research and energy or the use of nuclear radiation in medicine, in developing better crops, and in other solutions that nuclear science can contribute significantly. 

“How do you make sure that nuclear research and science have a broad social acceptance and that the research is explained in a way that it becomes socially acceptable for communities, not only harnessing the advantages but also live in peace, so to say, with nuclear facilities?” a question posed by Amb. Mellbin. 

Amb. Mellbin also gave credit to the Philippines, specifically to DOST-PNRI for actively making research agreements with different countries on nuclear-related research efforts. 

“It is very important to international cooperation and this Institute (DOST-PNRI) and the Philippines have been part of a wider international community working for nuclear energy, working with nuclear medicine, working with the development ofradiation to create better crops and cooperation is one of the hallmarks of nuclear energy and the nuclear research community in general,” said Amb. Mellbin. 

DOST-PNRI shares initiatives and programs on nuclear S&T

As the 50th Atomic Energy Week (AEW) kicked off on Monday, December 05, and it will end on December 09, key officials from DOST and DOST-PNRI shared several research and development (R&D) projects and initiatives that were done in recent years. 

DOST Undersecretary Leah J. Buendia noted some of the DOST-PNRI’s ongoing initiatives in the peaceful uses of atoms in wealth creation, protection, and safety. These included setting international standards for the quarantine treatment of mango pulp weevil. She explained that it will also benefit the Philippine mango industry, especially the mango growers and exporters, and everyone else in the value chain.

Another one cited was the development of the Carrageenan Plant Growth Promoter which is already being enjoyed by farmers, vegetable growers, entrepreneurs, and others that increases production and income and the application of isotope techniques for the detection of adulteration in honey and condiments. According to Usec. Buendia, this gives big benefits to legitimate product manufacturers and consumers. As for the latter, buying authentic honey gives them value for their money and ensures food safety and health concerns.

Lastly the establishment of a nationwide radiation monitoring system is for the safety and protection of the general public. 

“With these R&D projects, it just goes to show that in the field of food and agriculture, human health and medicine, environmental protection and management, industry, high technology materials, disaster mitigation, and education, DOST-PNRI has always helped and continues to address some of the Philippines’ most pressing national problems. It was never an easy feat, yet here we are celebrating a milestone,” said Usec. Buendia. 

On the other hand, in his video message, Director Carlo A. Arcilla said that it will be an exciting 50 years ahead for the DOST-PNRI as well as for the Filipino people because global developments in nuclear are important ways to attain energy security, improve socioeconomic conditions, address climate change concerns, and be as competitive with other countries. 

“It is worth noting that after 34 years, the Philippines has, once more, a working nuclear research reactor. Forty-four nuclear fuel rods have been loaded into the core of the newly constructed, Filipino-designed Subcritical Assembly for Training, Education, and Research or SATER. This facility is projected to open the whole scientific field of reactor physics and engineering for Filipinos; on its way for the Philippines to achieving nuclear power sustainability,” said Dir. Arcilla. 

He also shared the Nuclear Medicine Research and Innovation Center which is under construction and will help bring down the cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and help nuclear medicine scientists in developing techniques in nuclear medicine.

On the other hand, Secretary Solidum acknowledged the DOST-PNRI in earning several prestigious accolades in the local and international research scheme as well as the addition of several DOST-PNRI scientists in the scientific career system and those who have earned their advanced degrees which is considered a huge boost to the Institute’s research capabilities.

He also recognized scientists in the Institute who have published internationally peer-reviewed journals and have recently won the DOST International Publication Award.  

More of the 50th Atomic Energy Week 

After two years of virtual celebrations, the DOST-PNRI opened its doors to the public once more with the AEW 2022 that featured several technical exhibits with free guided tours. 

Some of the highlights included the wreath-laying on Dr. Gen. Florencio A. Medina's monument, the Philippine Nuclear Research and Development Conference (PNRDC), and several contests such as Mobile Photography, Poster Making, and NucleArt 4.0

The five-day celebration focused on current initiatives of DOST-PNRI and its partner institutions that will prepare the country for more relevant uses of nuclear S&T in the areas of health and medicine, food, environment, and energy security in the next 50 years.

The annual AEW celebration, as mandated under Presidential Proclamation No. 1211 in 1973, aims to generate awareness among the Filipino people on the beneficial uses of nuclear science and technology. (By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII)

In his keynote message, Franz-Michael Skjold- Mellbin, ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark to the Philippines and Palau, underscores the valuable contributions of revolutionary nuclear technologies to various fields such as energy, health, and agriculture. (Photo by Henri A. de Leon, DOST-STII)

Several key DOST-PNRI officials led by Deputy Director Vallerie Ann I. Samson and former DOST Undersecretary and current National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) President Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara lead the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of exhibits of the 50th Atomic Energy Week from December 05-09, 2022 at the DOST-PNRI office in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. (Photo by Henri A. de Leon, DOST-STII)

The Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) and other several and mineral samples as well as soil and sediment samples from all over the Philippines, are among the featured exhibits for the 50th Atomic Energy Week (AEW) celebration at DOST-PNRI office in Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. (Photos from DOST-PNRI’s Nuclear Materials Research Section)

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