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Nobel Prize Winner to Research on Thorium

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

Gérard Albert Mourou who won Nobel Physics in 2018 had announced at Science for Life symposium, ahead of the VinFuture Prize Award Ceremony that he is doing research on thorium, an abundant resource that could help humans solve the energy problem for up to 20,000 years.

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

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

At the event, 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.”

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 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 10,00-20,000 years,” Prof, Mourou said.

Solar power is also an energy source attracting the attention of many scientists at the talk. If Professor Antonio Facchetti was excited about solar energy, 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 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 strengths to create its 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 Katalin Kariko, who built the foundation for the COVID-19 vaccine’s mRNA technology, greatly contributing to the global fight against the pandemic.


Aishwarya Saxena

A book geek, with creative mind, an electronics degree, and zealous for writing.Creativity is the one thing in her opinion which drove her to enter into editing field. Allured towards south Indian cuisine and culture, love to discover new cultures and their customs. Relishes in discovering new music genres.

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