Seeds in space: IAEA/FAO experiment goes the distance for better crops on earth

November 8, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket, with the Cygnus spacecraft Sally Ride aboard (so named for first American woman to fly in space), launched at 5:32 a.m. EST on November 7, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket is captured just after liftoff in this still image from NASA’s live broadcast of the event.

Seeds from the joint laboratories of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are onboard a Cygnus spacecraft launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia early on November 7. Now orbiting the Earth en route to the International Space Station, the seeds are part of a commercial resupply mission with a payload that includes resources to support more than 250 scientific investigations.

After six decades of IAEA research, NN revisits one scientist’s take on the agency’s early years

October 13, 2022, 3:05PMNuclear News
G. Robert Keepin, of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, author of a three-part feature on the IAEA published in Nuclear News in January, February, and March of 1966; the cover of the January 1966 issue, featuring the IAEA’s first headquarters in the Grand Hotel of Vienna, Austria; and a February 1966 IAEA photo of remote handling of radioisotope standard sources at the Seibersdorf laboratory.

A groundbreaking ceremony held last week at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria, marked the start of construction on a nuclear applications building that will host three state-of-the-art laboratories: Plant Breeding and Genetics, Terrestrial Environment and Radiochemistry, and Nuclear Science and Instrumentation.It was a significant achievement for the second phase of the Renovation of the Nuclear Applications Laboratories initiative, known as ReNuAL2—and a fitting way to observe the 60th anniversary of the nuclear applications laboratories at Seibersdorf, about an hour’s drive south the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna. For Nuclear Newswire, it was all the reason we needed to dig into the Nuclear News archives and explore the bygone days of research at the IAEA.

Quick action in Mexico leads to eradication of pest with a taste for fresh fruit

August 9, 2022, 12:27PMNuclear News
A release box containing about 15 million sterile male fruit flies is loaded into a Cessna aircraft for release over Colima, Mexico, earlier this year. (Photo: DGSV SENASICA)

Mexican authorities announced last week that the Mediterranean fruit fly, more commonly known as the medfly, had been successfully eradicated in the state of Colima using a nuclear technique described by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as “birth control for pests.” Mexico used the sterile insect technique (SIT) in cooperation with the IAEA and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to protect fruit and vegetable crops, farmers’ livelihoods, and the country’s economy.

Zoonotic disease experts agree to use nuclear science against monkeypox, Lassa fever

June 13, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses workshop attendees. (Photo: IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency convened a workshop last week to explore how nuclear techniques backed by the IAEA’s Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) initiative could be used to avoid outbreaks of monkeypox and Lassa fever. The meeting, held in Vienna, Austria, on the sidelines of the IAEA Board of Governors meeting, was organized to assist countries in using nuclear and related techniques to detect, mitigate, and understand the behavior of the viruses.

“It is important that we are reacting quickly, as things happen. I am happy that concrete work is being carried out on something before it becomes a very difficult problem,” said IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi as he opened the one-day summit.

Nuclear technique for mosquito control breeds success in Cuba

January 18, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear News
Schools distributed information about the pilot trial in their communities, and schoolchildren participated in the biweekly release of sterilized male mosquitoes. (Photo: Manuel Fernández, Cuban Agency of Nuclear Energy)

Cuba’s plan to use the sterile insect technique to tackle the spread of dengue—a viral, mosquito-borne disease—relies on expertise and technology from the International Atomic Energy Agency. The technique is not new, having been used to control different insect-vector diseases in diverse regions of the world.

IAEA combats crop-threatening banana wilt with nuclear technology

January 6, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
In 2021, the Fusarium wilt disease continued to spread in banana plantations across South America. (Photo: M.Dita/Biodiversity International, Colombia)

A lethal banana disease, known as the Fusarium wilt or Panama wilt, is spreading rapidly in South America and threatening global supplies of the Cavendish banana, the world’s most popular export variety. Working with experts in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are using irradiation and nuclear-derived techniques to combat, manage, and prevent the spread of the disease. The IAEA describes the work in a December 24 news article.

Researchers adapt Cf-252 source for wireless data transmission

November 15, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
(CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE) The researchers’ experimental layout is depicted here. In (b), the neutron chopper is depicted without the mesh guard shown in (d), a photograph of the experimental layout that includes the Cf-252 source tank at left. (Composite image: Joyce, et al., “Wireless information transfer with fast neutrons,” doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2021.165946)

Swapping conventional electromagnetic radiation for fast neutrons, a team of research engineers at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, working with the Jozef Stefan Institute of Slovenia, report that they have successfully transmitted digital information wirelessly using nuclear radiation. The researchers’ attempts to transmit words and numbers using standard ASCII code “were 100 percent successful,” according to a November 10 press release from Lancaster University. Their research will be published in an upcoming issue of Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research and is now available online.

Palo Verde gets $20 million to make hydrogen while the sun shines

October 8, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
APS’s Palo Verde plant

Arizona Public Service is the latest nuclear utility with confirmed plans to install hydrogen production capacity, an investment decision that is based on analysis conducted under the Department of Energy’s H2@Scale program and backed by a $20 million DOE award.

Treating arrhythmia with radiation yields healthier heart tissue, researchers say

October 6, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Illustration of a normal human heart showing ventricles and valves. (Image: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator; C. Carl Jaffe, M.D., cardiologist)

Therapeutic radiation is typically reserved for cancer treatment, but scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have applied radiation therapy to treat ventricular tachycardia, a life-threatening heart arrhythmia. A news release issued by the university says that the results of the study show that radiation therapy can “reprogram” heart muscle cells to “a younger and perhaps healthier state.” The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on September 24.

IAEA sends NDT expert team to Beirut to assess building safety

September 7, 2021, 2:59PMNuclear News
During the week-long mission, the IAEA team is carrying out practical NDT training with specialized equipment. (Photo: Abel Domato/BAC)

In the aftermath of a devastating explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, in August 2020, an International Atomic Energy Agency team visited the country at the government’s request and found no evidence of artificial radionuclides and no increase in radiation levels. The powerful blast, which was caused by an explosion of improperly stored ammonium nitrate, killed more than 200 people and leveled numerous buildings while leaving other buildings standing with possible structural damage. The IAEA recently announced that a different team of experts has traveled to Lebanon with a new mission: to assist the nation in the use of non-destructive testing (NDT) to check the structural soundness of buildings that were impacted by the explosion.

Nuclear techniques to monitor—and prevent—plastic pollution

May 25, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News
Plastic waste on a Galapagos beach. Sunlight, wind, and waves break down large plastic debris into smaller and smaller pieces to become microplastics. (Photo: F. Oberhaensli/IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency has created a new program, NUclear TEChnology for Controlling Plastic Pollution (NUTEC Plastics), to address the global environmental impact of plastic pollution in oceans. It uses nuclear technology to monitor pollution and also to decrease the volume of plastic waste by using irradiation to complement traditional plastic recycling methods.

Research reactors promise world of benefits to African nations

October 14, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

Leonardi

Mwamba

Africa hosts only seven of the 220 research reactors in operation today, and despite having 17.2 percent of the world’s population the continent contains just 3 percent of the world's nuclear research reactor capacity, say the authors of an opinion piece published online on October 12.

Marguerite Leonardi, senior advisor at NPC Consulting & Engineering, and Professor Vincent Lukanda Mwamba, Commissaire Général of the Commissariat Général à l’Energie Atomique in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), explain why the lack of research reactor capacity is a concern and they urge the restart of a dormant research reactor in Kinshasa, in the DRC.

Nuclear-powered rockets could hold key to faster spaceships

May 27, 2020, 12:07PMAround the Web

An artist’s impression of what a nuclear thermal ship built to take humans to Mars could look like. Photo: NASA

There are a lot of reasons that a faster spaceship is a better one, and nuclear-powered rockets are a way to achieve this, according to an article posted on the Conversation website on May 20.