Nuclear R&D takes center stage in DOST-PNRI’s Atomic Energy Week

Published December 9, 2022, 4:47 PM

by Dhel Nazario

Various initiatives and programs on nuclear Science and Technology (S&T) were highlighted during the opening of the 50th Atomic Energy Week (AEW) of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI).

Former DOST Undersecretary and current National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) President Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara (center right) leads the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of exhibits of the 50th Atomic Energy Week from December 05 to 09, 2022 at the DOST-PNRI office in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. (Photo courtesy of DOST-STII)

After two years of virtual celebrations, the DOST-PNRI opened its doors to the public once more with the AEW 2022 on Dec. 5 which featured several technical exhibits with free guided tours.

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.

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 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, she mentioned that 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 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 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, DOST Secretary Renato Solidum acknowledged the DOST-PNRI for 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 are 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.