Today, more than 20,000 accelerators around the world help create radiopharmaceuticals, cure disease, preserve food, monitor the environment, strengthen materials, understand fundamental physics, study the past and even solve crimes. The IAEA, through its coordinated research projects and technical cooperation programme, supports countries with accelerator applications in the fields of health, agriculture, research, monitoring of environment, cultural heritage and industry.
Mr. Grossi explained how accelerator technology plays a key role in two IAEA initiatives that were launched last year: Rays of Hope, which aims to improve access to radiotherapy and cancer care in low- and middle-income countries; and NUTEC plastics, which helps countries tackle plastic waste, both in the ocean and on land. Mr Grossi said linear accelerators or “linacs” can destroy cancerous tumors and accelerators can be used to process plastic waste and turn it into valuable products in support of a circular economy.
Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Science and Applications, highlighted the role of accelerator technology in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – a set of 17 global targets aimed at tackling against poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. Ms. Mokhtar said she looked forward to discussions on how to increase access to accelerators in developing countries, to address issues such as food waste and sewage waste management.
Accelerators also play a role in nuclear energy. Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, said accelerators are an essential part of the Accelerator Driven System (ADS) concept for energy generation and waste management. nuclear. ADS can transform high-level, very long-lived nuclear waste from reactors into much shorter-lived waste – this has implications for the costs and manageability of radioactive waste, as well as public perception nuclear energy. Mr. Chudakov also spoke about the importance of accelerators for testing materials used in nuclear fission and fusion reactors, where ion beam techniques can simulate the radiation and damage caused by the operation of a reactor. .
Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Technical Cooperation Department, said that ion beams help meet many development needs and explained how the IAEA supports countries in strengthening capacity and training in the use of accelerators. He described the IAEA’s support for the establishment of the Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) project in Jordan, as well as the IAEA’s cooperation with the Institute of synchrotron light research in Thailand. The IAEA helps countries organize the training of scientists at these facilities, as well as at the Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste, Italy, which the IAEA jointly operates. Mr Liu said the IAEA is now also helping to coordinate the establishment of the synchrotron in Africa.