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Experts Discuss how to Expand the Contribution of Radiation Applications to Industry, Environmental Protection and More


150 researchers, engineers and radiation facility operators from 43 countries attended the four-day workshop. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

How is radiation science and technology supporting health, agriculture, industry and environmental protection around the world today, and how might emerging radiation technologies contribute in the near future? During a four-day virtual workshop, held from 19 to 22 April, more than 150 researchers, engineers and radiation facility operators gathered to address these and other related topics.

The findings and conclusions of the workshop attendees are now being studied to identify priorities for future regional efforts under the IAEA’s technical cooperation (TC) programme[1] and, on the basis of those findings, participants have been encouraged to submit abstracts of presentations to be delivered at the Second International Conference on Applications of Radiation Science and Technology (ICARST 2022).

“Radiation technology is applied in our daily life and in various fields, from polymer modification to the preservation of cultural heritage, to name a few. Radiation technologies help to address the development needs and challenges of Member States,” said Eve-Kulli Kala, Director of the TC Division for Europe.

“The task of reviewing the status of radiation technology in industry and environment today is a huge one. This is a subject that spans waste and flue gas, solid and slush waste treatment, to food and healthcare product sterilization,” said Melissa Denecke, Director of the IAEA Division of Physical and Chemical Sciences. “The review also addressed technology, innovation, as well as safety and quality assurance.”

With the help of radiation technologies, industrial operations are made safer, materials are analysed and modified to produce superior properties, and toxic gases are removed from power plant emissions.

Radiation sources and irradiation services provided the focus for the first day of the workshop. Experts from leading radiation technology institutions in Europe explained how low-energy e-beams and electron accelerators support industrial processes, and examined  new, practical applications of gamma irradiation in the future.

On the second day, presentations centred on current issues and emerging opportunities in the fields of radiation chemistry and material modification. International experts described how novel nanomaterials are developed in France, how natural polymers are used as food packaging in the Philippines, and how advanced radiation chemistry is leveraged to support industry in Russia.

Finally, environmental protection and microbiological applications—particularly in Hungary, India, and Poland—were discussed during the third day of the workshop. The concluding session explored emerging technologies which may help to reduce and reuse plastic waste, or to characterize and preserve cultural artefacts.

The workshop was organized to provide a forum for knowledge-sharing in the field of radiation technology, ahead of the second ICARST conference, which was postponed to 2022. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

“All the presentations were very interesting and enriching, and they included content of a high scientific level,” said Amira Zaouak Ep Ammar, Associate Professor at the National Centre of Nuclear Sciences and Technology (CNSTN) in Tunisia. “Now I know how effective radiation technology is in the treatment of emerging pollutants in wastewater, such as drugs and pesticides, particularly when compared to other conventional, ultraviolet- or ultrasound-based treatment technologies.”

“This virtual workshop on radiation technology was very fruitful and of great benefit to my knowledge, allowing me to more clearly identify the current and future trends of these emerging applications,” said Nazarena Ciavaro, a polymer researcher at National Commission of Atomic Energy (CNEA) in Argentina.

“All the presentations were very interesting and enriching, and they included content of a high scientific level,” said Amira Zaouak Ep Ammar, Associate Professor at the National Centre of Nuclear Sciences and Technology (CNSTN) in Tunisia.

Aiming to expand the contribution of radiation technologies, both generally and in these specific areas, national counterparts in the 43 participating countries will continue coordinating with IAEA experts in the coming months to review active TC projects and new project designs, with the aim of updating their planned activities to capitalize on new modalities, the latest technologies and innovative approaches to achieve resource efficiency and environmentally sustainable development.

The workshop also provided a valuable opportunity for experts and participants in all four technical cooperation regions to share information ahead of ICARST 2022, which is scheduled to take place in August 2022 and will facilitate a review of national, regional and global initiatives for implementing proven radiation technology applications. The deadline for the submission of abstracts to be presented at ICARST 2022 is 30 November, 2021.

[1] RER1021, ‘Enhancing the Use of Radiation Technologies in Industry and Environment’

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