Thorium – An Abundant New Source of Energy

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HANOI, VIETNAM – Media Outreach – January 20, 2022 – At the “Science for Life” symposium launched on January 19, ahead of the VinFuture award ceremony, Professor Gérard Albert Mourou, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018, said he was researching thorium , an abundant resource that could help man solve the energy problem of up to 20,000 years ago.

Panelists discuss the future of energy at VinFuture Sci-Tech Week in Vietnam

Thorium – Energy of the future?

The professor, who is also a VinFuture Prize board member, said thorium was being explored as a replacement for uranium in nuclear power generation. If successful, it will be an effective solution for the depletion of energy sources.

According to Professor Mourou, Thorium has three advantages. The first is its abundance in nature. “Compared to other power generation 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 third, the toxic material life cycle of thorium is very short compared to uranium.

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

The study of new energy sources is now an urgent mission. This is one of the reasons why before the VinFuture award ceremony, there was a session on new energies, with the participation of many leading scientists.

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

Excited about the solar power solution

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

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

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

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

“Ten years later, solar energy costs have fallen sharply, far more than the most optimistic person would ever have thought.”

Solar energy is also an energy source that attracts the attention of many scientists at the conference. If Professor Antonio Facchetti was enthusiastic about solar energy, Professor Sir Kostya S. Novoselov, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics, looked to storage options to improve the efficiency of renewable energy sources.

Among them, graphene – the material that won Professor Novoselov the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics – is one of the optimal solutions.

“The solar energy integrated into the storage batteries can be optimally exploited, which has a considerable impact on energy efficiency,” said the professor.

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

Meanwhile, Professor Nguyễn Thục Quyên (University of California, USA) said that each country should 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 Center region, which has the advantage of wind power, so it’s a strength to take advantage of,” said the president of the pre-selection of the VinFuture prize. Committee.

During 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 scientists from in the world, including Professor Katalin Kariko, who built the foundation for COVID-19 vaccine mRNA technology, contributing greatly to the global fight against the pandemic.

At 8:10 p.m. local time on January 20, the inaugural VinFuture Global Science and Technology Award Ceremony will be held at the Hà Nội Opera House. The ceremony will be broadcast live on VTV1, the digital platforms of VTV and VinFuture, and international media platforms such as CNN, CNBC, Euronews and TechNode.

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