Российская наука и мир (дайджест) - Апрель 2003 г.
Дайджест за другие годы
2003 г.
Российская наука и мир
(по материалам зарубежной электронной прессы)

январь февраль март апрель май июнь июль август сентябрь октябрь ноябрь декабрь

MOSCOW, April 18 (Interfax) - President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with prominent physicist and Nobel Prize winner Zhores Alferov to discuss Russian scientific advances and development of the education sector. Alferov told journalists after the meeting that "Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] agreed that the hi-tech industry is vital to economic growth. Today these are primarily such areas as bio- technology, information technologies and environmentally-friendly energy sources," the scientist said. "These spheres have good potential. We even lead in some of them," Alferov noted

© 1991-2003 Interfax, All rights reserved

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    По словам секретаря Комитета по науке и высоким технологиям Президента Российской Федерации профессора Михаила Ковальчука российский научный потенциал полностью не используется и поэтому не приносит той экономической пользы для страны, как можно было ожидать. Ковальчук поделился своим мнением на семинаре "Великобритания и Россия. Инновации - путь развития"

ST. PETERSBURG, 3 April. 'Russian scientific potential is not being thoroughly used to bring economic advantage to the country,' says the Secretary of the Committee for Science and High Technology of the President of the Russian Federation Professor Mikhail Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk shared his opinion on Thursday at a seminar entitled 'Great Britain and Russia. Innovation is the Road of Development,' according to Rosbalt. 'Russia can not be classified as a High Technology country, rather it is a country of raw materials -approximately 40 percent of the Russian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is provided by raw materials in spite of the fact that 12 percent of the world's scientific potential is located in Russia,' said Kovalchuk. Chief Scientific Advisor to the British Government Sir David King, also speaking at the seminar, said it was important to create conditions which would allow scientists and businessmen to positively interact. He said that the British government over the last few years has significantly increased financing of science. If in 1997 science received GBP 1.4 billion, in 2005 it will receive GBP 2.9 billion. The seminar 'Great Britain and Russia. Innovation: The Road of Development' is occurring as apart of the Russian-British project 'Week of Sciences in St. Petersburg.' The project represents a series of planned activities in St. Petersburg with the participation of leading scientists and experts from Great Britain and Russia. 'Week of Sciences' demonstrates modern achievements and new technology of Britain. The British Council and the British Embassy organized the project. The Northwest Center for Strategic Development, the Fond for Cooperation in the Development of Small Business, Vodokanal St. Petersburg, and Lomonosov magazine are co-sponsors

© 2000-2002 Rosbalt News Agency
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Russia may have some of the world's most talented scientists and top research institutes, but that doesn't mean it has a hi-tech economy.
In fact, according to participants at a top-level British-Russian seminar held on Thursday, the county is not using its scientific resources to their full potential.
"Russia can't yet be called a hi-tech country," said Mikhail Kovalchuk, executive secretary of the Presidental Science and Technology Committee. "Russia is a raw-materials country; it gets more than 40 percent of its GDP from raw materials, even though we have 12 percent of the world's scientific potential concentrated here."
The seminar, "Britain and Russia: Developing a Science-Based Economy,"was organized jointly by the British Council and the Northwest Center for Strategic Research, a public strategic-planning institute, as part of British Science Week, itself part of UK@SPb, a British government-funded program for St. Petersburg's 300th-anniversary celebrations.
The seminar, which included a round table and presentations by British and Russian government officials and advisors, focused on innovation and its role in economic development. Also taking part were the heads of St. Petersburg scientific institutions and representatives from science-and-technology committees and research centers from across the Northwest Region.
The U.K. government's chief scientific advisor, David King, outlined the British experience of moving from a manufacturing-based to a hi-tech economy, stressing the importance of fusing academic research and business and, in particular, the need to create mechanisms to facilitate knowledge transfer between the two.
"This is the key to finding funding for science, and for keeping businesses globally competitive," he said.
In Britian, King said, a new company is created for every $19 billion invested in research. The figure for the United States is one company for every $72 billion invested. Investing in academic research also brings benefits for the scientists involved, King said. He recalled looking out of his window in Cambridge a few years ago and seeing rusty, aging cars belonging to his fellow academics in the parking lot below.
"Now, if you look in the same car park, there are a number of Porches and Mercedes," he said. "Out of the 50 academics in our faculty, six are millionaires as a result of their spin-out activities."
"In the past, when academics came across something new, they would think about publishing an article; now, they think about setting up a company," he said. "Spin-out activities have become a part of what academics in Britain do now."
Participants in the round table discussed the problem of Russia's brain drain, the difficulty of finding loans to cover international patent costs and the lack of information and support for scientists with start-up projects and inventions. Many participants complained about current public funding levels for science.
"The creation of a silicon valley in Russia is not possible despite our scientific potential," said Vladimir Troyan, the vice rector of research at St. Petersburg State University. "Current funding levels do not adequately support Russia's scientific potential."
Russia's scientific resources are large, with more than 4,000 research institutes employing over 800,000 researchers, but underfunded. Russian scientists are well known for their prowess in pure physics and math, but are increasingly gaining recognition for software development, nanotechnology, biotechnology, lasers, materials development and optoelectronics. Software and biotech outsourcing sectors are growing particularly fast.
"Foreign investors come to Russia and make fat profits from our scientific resources," Troyan continued. "Russians are not getting as much as they could be from these activities." Despite giving an exhausting description of the history of science in Russia, Kovalchuk failed to address the question of the day: What is the Russian government doing to stimulate an innovation-based economy?
Kovalchuk said that the government believed it should take care of the generic situation, rather than picking particular technologies or scientific projects to support. However, he sidestepped questions about funding, and failed to mention any government programs that really assisted scientists commercialize their discoveries.
First Deputy Science Minister Andrei Fursenko said that the government was well aware of the need to support science, but suggested funding increases were unlikely. "Science was never perceived as part of the market in the past. We need to change this attitude and make it more marketable," he said. "Our scientific institutions from Soviet times are important resources, but you all need to be aware, that the government only has a finite amount of resources and that is not going to change."
Round-table participants also talked about the difficulties of attracting venture capital.
"Investment capital operates on the basis of confidence, and Russia's image in the U.K. is not quite there yet," King said. "Russia is known for its scientific resources, but it will take time for it to improve its image and for investor confidence to follow."
"Remember, it took Britain 30 years to change its image," he said.

© The St. Petersburg Times 2003
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MOSCOW. Mathematicians around the world are poring over a proof of the Poincarй Conjecture, one of seven US$1-million Millennium Prize Problems.
Grigori Perelman of the Steklov Mathematical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg released two versions of the proof as preprints, one in November and the other last month. The conjecture concerns three-dimensional surfaces. Closed two-dimensional surfaces without holes can be transformed onto the surface of a sphere, and Henri Poincarй suggested that similar surfaces with higher dimensions should also transform back to spheres.
In 2000 the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offered an award of $1 million to anyone providing a proof of the conjecture that could withstand academic scrutiny for two years. Six other problems were allocated an equal amount. Proofs have appeared frequently on preprint servers , but have never survived academic scrutiny. But Perelman's highly technical paper is considered very promising, and many universities are planning seminars in which researchers will probe the proof for errors.

Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2003
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    Российская Академия Наук довольно скептически относится к сообщению, что в Волгоградском университете открыли совершенно новый источник энергии. В Москве состоялась встреча с журналистами, на которой были представлены результаты научного эксперимента. Одним из представленных результатов был химический состав, который согласно законам науки настоящего времени, не может существовать в природе. По словам Валерия Соболева - руководителя рабочей группы это - новая форма вещества

On the one hand, it may be an incredible breakthrough that will help realize the ideas of science-fiction writers. On the other, many say the creators are mistaken.
The Russian Academy of Sciences is treating the news that Volgograd University laboratories say they have discovered a fundamentally new source of energy rather skeptically. A special meeting with journalists dedicated to the discovery was later held in Moscow, in which the results of the scientific experiment were presented. One of the items presented was a chemical compound that, according to scientific laws as currently known, cannot exist in nature.
Academician Valery Sobolev from the Academy of Sciences - the head of the research group working on the experiment - says that "This is not some new physics, but just experiments that have been performed with great seriousness. Create a surge of electrons in the environment, remove them, deplete the fused electrolyte with base-type metals, and what you derive cannot be produced by chemical methods. This is a new form of substance."
According to the researchers, first, they discovered a particular electrochemical process the product of which is high-temperature materials in a new state. This, in turn, allowed for the discovery of a new state of substance, a new class of materials, a new source of energy, a new method of cold-plasma generation and a new superconductor.
As soon as the team headed by Sobolev reported on possible uses for the discovery, Prof. Kapisa, a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke on the problem. He did not discuss the dubiousness of the discovery. Indeed, he was extremely surprised that the researchers were trying to prove the scientific character of the discovery in non-specialty publications in which "naive journalists sometimes don't understand what the scientists are telling them." Also, Kapitsa says that the group headed by Sobolev encroached upon the fundamentals of physics that cannot be spoken of in passing.
The professor added that some researchers had already brought six licenses for perpetual motion machines to him and that they had taken out patents for their inventions. He said it is very strange that Sobolev's group did not mention the discovery in any specialized scientific magazine.
Another scientist, Academician Valery Lubakov, voiced harsher criticism regarding the invention. He is of the opinion that it has no connection with science, and that the use of the press for unscientific and false purposes is unethical.
However, the speakers from the Russian Academy of Sciences are probably forgetting about the YUSMAR systems that first appeared in the Moldovan city of Chisinau. This technology has been patented in 42 countries. The YUSMAR system was tested several times in reliable research centers in Russia and the United States. It was discovered that the system produced about two kilowatts of heat per one kilowatt of consumed energy. This technology caused much dispute. Is it a perpetual-motion machine? Many scientists are convinced that this machine cannot operate ˜ but it does.
Let's leave it for scientists to decide whether the machine can work or not. In the near future, the fantastic invention of the Volgograd research group will be realized. A Canadian company has already concluded a contract with Volgograd?s Scientific industrial center GRUS for production of a new type of power source. The company believes that this new technology can "change the whole energy-supply system."
These compact generators can continuously generate electricity and need no technical input: Their duration is unlimited. Thus, people having the appliance will obtain an electric-power station of their own that can be placed in the home or office. The power capacity of the new generator is three to ten kilowatts, which is quite enough for energy supply to an apartment or an office.

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    Some metals are considered excessive even if their content in the water is as low as trace quantities. These are, for example, mercury, thallium and lead. Even when their content is extremely low, they can still cause damage, but it is very difficult or almost impossible to discover these metals in the water. So far, extremely complicated, expensive, large and heavy devices had to be used for this purpose. Now the situation may change. The Moscow researchers have designed a device so small in size that it can be held on a palm, but which would not concede to its bulky congeners in terms of precision and sensitivity.
    Если в воде находят только следы некоторых металлов, например, ртути, таллия и свинца, то это количество уже вредно для здоровья человека. Очень трудно или почти невозможно обнаружить эти металлы в воде. Для этой цели использовались чрезвычайно сложные, дорогие, большие и тяжелые приборы. Теперь ситуация может измениться. Московские исследователи разработали устройство, настолько миниатюрное, что его можно положить на ладонь. Однако, оно не уступает по точности и чувствительности аналогичным большим приборам, применявшимся раньше

A person in a white smock takes a small lead ball - a common sinker attached to the fishing-line - and drops it into a glass of clean water for half a minute. Then the person takes some water from the glass and within a minute finds out the precise toxic metal content remaining in the water. Certainly, the person is not a magician or deceiver. Vladimir Yagov (Ph. D. (Chemistry), Senior Research Assistant, Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences) and his colleagues have designed a unique device that solves such a task, a large sensitivity margin being in place as the professionals put it.
The device is based on a combination of two methods - electro chemistry and luminescence - which is completely new for analytics. The device is based on a phenomenon which attracted the attention of Finnish chemists several years ago. It turns out that some metals, including mercury, thallium and lead, do not get evolved on the cathode in the course of electrolysis, they remain in the solution and, on top of that, luminesce. However, that requires special conditions - the electrode should be made of aluminium, and cathodic impulses should be short. Having received an additional electron, the ions of these metals get excited, i.e. transit to a higher energy level, and then, having emited the light quantum, return to the habitual condition. These alternating lights might have allowed to 'count' all ions of mercury and its analogues contained in the solution.
Although Finnish researchers discovered this phenomenon of extreme interest for the chemists, they failed to utilize it. Luminescence has turned out to be rather weak, and the electrode gets spoiled quickly. Only the Moscow chemists - researchers of the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry (GEOKHI) have succeeded in designing the device. First, they studied the new process thoroughly, and have learned that some other metals are capable of bright luminescence on the aluminium cathode, namely lead and indium. Then the Moscow scientists developed a theoretical model of the process, which explained all acquired data, they invented the way to preserve the electrode in the course of the analysis and, finally, they implemented their theoretical knowledge into a device.
As a result, they have succeeded to design a device, or rather its experimental specimen, which allows to determine quickly and precisely the trace content of mercury, tin, lead, thallium and some other metals in the water. Analytical capabilities of the device are not unique. Other methods can 'catch' low concentrations of these toxic metals, for example, the atomic absorptive method which employs the sample burning down in plasma. However, devices of that kind cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and can be hardly placed on a mid-size desk. In contrast to bulky congeners, the device designed by the Moscow scientists can be made quite small - in the form of a computer detachable device. The dimensions of the new device will slightly exceed those of an ordinary player. Certainly, the result processing requires specific software - it has been also developed by the researchers. The scientists managed to make the electrode nonexpendable, and the method on the whole is simple, sensitive and well reproductible. It is premature to discuss the price of the innovation - the production has not been launched yet. Nevertheless, the researchers assume that their device may be 1.5 to 2 times less expensive than the equipment used now for solving similar tasks.

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    Владимир Васекин, ученый - компьютерщик будучи еще студентом Новосибирского университета вместе с тремя другими студентами образовал исследовательскую группу, которая работала над созданием компьютера пятого поколения. Восемь месяцев назад его пригласили в компанию ARM Holdings plc, где он работает над улучшением характеристик процессора

CAMBRIDGE, England -- Vladimir Vasekin, a computer scientist who co-founded a research group that contributed to a Russian fifth generation computer project, has been working for the last eight months to help ARM Holdings plc improve its processor offerings.
ARM, a developer of the architecture and circuitry for processor cores that it makes available for license, includes almost all the major semiconductor manufacturers, including Intel, amongst its licensees.
Vasekin, who has been working in R&D at ARM for about eight months, is modest about his journey from Novosibirsk, Siberia, in what was the USSR, to Cambridge, England, where ARM is headquartered.
"I would not say it is something very outstanding, maybe a bit unusual," Vasekin said.
But that journey is now set to take Vasekin even further west. He is due to present a major ARM paper at the forthcoming Embedded Processor Forum in San Jose, California, June 16 through June 19.
During his time at Novosibirsk State University Vasekin was one of four students who formed the Kronos Research Group (KRG) in 1984. Two of his colleagues, Dmitry Kuznetsov and Alex Nedoria, came from the Math department and Eugen Tarasov was a colleague of Vasekin's in the Physics department.
"At that time the main objective was to build home computers for ourselves," said a home page for the Kronos Research Group that was hosted when this story was first posted. In 1985 the group joined the START project, a Russian fifth generation computer project also known as MARS, and played a leading role in the development of the first Russian 32-bit workstation and its software, according to the page.
The CPU was called Kronos and the expanded Kronos Research Group designed and implemented a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system called Excelsior, along with Modula-2, C, and Fortran compilers to run on it, and wrote various pieces of application software.
With expertise in compilation technology and unusual ways of getting the maximum computation out of minimum hardware resources it is, perhaps, no surprise that of that expanded Kronos group several researchers have gone on to work for Microsoft Corp. in Seattle, Washington. Others on the list have stayed in academia and yet others have formed start-up companies in and around Novosibirsk, prompted by the collapse of the USSR.
However Vasekin, who was mainly been responsible for hardware implementation in Kronos he said, transferred to the University of Surrey, Guildford, England, where he performed research on distributed systems before moving on to Telecom Modus Ltd. in nearby Leatherhead.
Telecom Modus was formed as a joint venture between NEC and ERA Technology Ltd. in 1999 oriented towards third generation communications. Vasekin's distributed systems expertise was of interest at Telecom Modus, which works for NEC on basestation and 3G network theory and implementations.
Vasekin's move into telecommunications familiarized him with existing versions of the ARM architecture and implementations that are used in the vast majority of mobile phone handsets. That may supply a hint, but does not fully explain, why Vasekin transferred to ARM about eight months ago. That answer may come on June 17 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose where Vasekin is scheduled to present on "New extensions to the ARM v6 architecture" as listed when this story was first posted

Electronics Times and EETimes UK material Copyright © 2003 CMP Europe Ltd

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    После девяти лет секретных исследований Министерство Ядерной энергетики впервые признало, что работает с Соединенными Штатами над экспериментальной программой превращения плутония, используемого для бомб, в топливо для существующих атомных электростанций

After nine years of secret research, the Nuclear Power Ministry has admitted for the first time that it is working with the United States on an experimental program to turn bomb-grade plutonium into fuel for existing nuclear power plants. The idea is to help eradicate the vast stockpiles of plutonium from thousands of decommissioned nuclear warheads by mixing the extremely toxic material with thorium, a less-dangerous and naturally occurring metal commonly found near uranium deposits.
The Nazis experimented with thorium as a potential weapon of mass destruction before the war, and invading Soviets confiscated tons of the stuff as war booty and brought it back home. Although the Nazis never achieved a chain reaction with thorium, Russian and American scientists eventually did. And now Russian specialists, with American money, are working on peaceful applications of the radioactive element - one of which is using plutonium to trigger an energy-producing chain reaction out of it.
The result, they say, will not only be a cheap source of electricity for millions of homes and enterprises, but also the degradation of weapons-grade plutonium to the point that it will be unsuitable for making nuclear weapons. Unlike uranium, the supplies of which are dwindling, thorium is abundant and can be easily mined in numerous areas, including the Tomsk region, the United States, India and China. "The possibility of using thorium fuel in existing reactors is very significant because it means we will not have to change the reactors," said Valery Rachkov, who runs the Russian side of the project as deputy head of the Nuclear Power Ministry's scientific research department. "It is also very important that it serve nonproliferation purposes," Rachkov said in a recent interview. So far, funding for the project has come solely from the American side and has been relatively paltry - $2 million from the U.S. government and $3 million from Thorium Power, a private Washington-based company founded in 1992 to capitalize on the scientific work of Alvin Radkowsky, a former student of hydrogen bomb "father" Edward Teller and the chief scientist of the U.S. Naval Reactors program from 1950 to 1972. Despite the relatively small budget, Thorium Power president Seth Grae and influential members of the U.S. Congress are optimistic that the project will eventually lead to the neutralization of tons of the deadly substance - just 8 kilograms of which could be used to flatten Moscow or New York. "Our fuel is really designed to be a way of disposing of the plutonium, to eliminate it while also making energy," Grae said in an interview during a trip to Moscow earlier this month. While in town, Grae met with some of the more than 300 researchers from seven institutions - including Moscow's famous Kurchatov Institute - now working on the project, which is being coordinated by the Nuclear Power Ministry and monitored by the State Nuclear Inspection Agency. There is already an international mechanism for plutonium disposal similar to the 20-year program for uranium signed in 1994 called "Megatons to Megawatts," through which Russia has already diluted and sold - for some $3.5 billion - uranium from 7,000 of a planned 20,000 nuclear weapons to the main supplier to U.S. nuclear power stations. In 2000, Russia and the United States each agreed to eliminate 34 tons of plutonium by burning it as so-called MOX fuel, a mix of oxidized uranium and oxidized plutonium. To do that, however, Russia would have to build a special facility at a cost of some $2 billion, or roughly half the amount required for the entire project. The money was supposed to come from the international community, but to date few countries have appropriated any cash. Grae says his version will be faster, cheaper and safer than the MOX alternative, as does a formidable backer of the project in Congress - Representative Curt Weldon, a Russian specialist on the House Armed Services Committee who has traveled widely here. "I have strongly supported additional funding to test the thorium process at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow," Weldon said by e-mail from Washington. "The thorium process provides the double benefit of reducing weapons-usable fissile material and producing advanced, proliferation-resistant nuclear reactor and fuel cycle technologies. As such, it is in the best interests of the United States to provide funding to advance this technology." While nuclear experts involved in the MOX program refuse to speculate when or even if the project will get off the ground, Grae says that with just $200 million in funding the thorium-plutonium fuel could be ready for commercial use within three years. Of Russia's 30 nuclear reactors, eight - four in the Saratov region, two in the Tver region and one each in Volgodonsk and Novovoronezh - are of the type (VVER-1000) that can be easily adapted to run on thorium-plutonium fuel. Two more plants with the modern VVER-1000 reactors are currently being built, and another is planned. The Russian scientists working on the project say that each of these reactors will be able to burn about 700 kilograms of plutonium a year - just a fraction of the plutonium Russia has stockpiled in underground facilities belonging to nuclear power plants, which are already filled to the brim. In fact, even if funding is found eventually for both the MOX facility and the thorium project, it would take decades to dispose of it all.
In his recently published book "Nuclear Danger" independent nuclear expert Vladimir Kuznetsov estimates that Russia is already sitting on 150 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, and with up to 18,000 warheads set to be dismantled over the next few years, dozens of tons more will have to be dealt with. This year the team of scientists working on the project expect to produce a working model of the process and test fuel samples. "It is a huge volume of work, but we believe that if the funding opens, we will be able to prepare it," one researcher said.
Weldon, the congressman, has been lobbying hard for the U.S. government to allocate $3.5 million this year to expedite the project. However, the U.S. Department of Energy said earlier this month that no budget funding had been allocated specifically for the project this year. Nonetheless, Weldon said he was confident the cash would be found despite the budget squeeze after the war in Iraq. "Expenses incurred by the U.S. during the war in Iraq should not hinder the allocation of the funds," Weldon said. In fact, he said, while the war in Iraq will require significant resources, "it has taught the world a valuable lesson about the dangers that proliferation of weapons technology presents. My intention is to convince my colleagues in Congress that the thorium process can play a vital role in preventing nuclear weapons materials from falling into the wrong hands and its development should receive the funds necessary to continue its progress." The project is facing opposition on two fronts. One is the increasingly powerful global environmental groups that are against nuclear energy of any kind, and the second has to do with Iran.
Tom Cochran, director of the nuclear arm of the nonprofit environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, said the whole issue of funding for the project is tied to building nuclear reactors in Iran. "The U.S. spends close to $1 billion per year on cooperative threat reduction efforts," he said. "Spread over several years, the [thorium] program is fundable.
But the greater threat to U.S. funding of programs like this is not the war in Iraq, but Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran." Proponents of the program like Weldon, however, say the opportunity for the United States is too good to pass up - if the project works in Russia, it could work in the United States, too. "If such systems were attainable, American nuclear facilities would be remiss if they did not consider such a system," Weldon said.
Indeed, the fuel could eventually be used all over the world. Of the 441 nuclear reactors that existed in the world at the beginning of this year, 260 can burn thorium-plutonium fuel, according to the London-based World Nuclear Association. Environmental organizations and nuclear safety experts say the whole idea is wrong and dangerous and that burning thorium is no better than burning uranium, since both produce substances that could be used by terrorists to make small nuclear devices.
Specifically, irradiating thorium in a reactor produces uranium-233, a fissile material that can be weaponized. "Look, uranium-233 is a wish for any terrorist," said Kuznetsov, who formerly worked for the State Nuclear Inspection Agency. "Only four kilograms of it could make an operational nuclear device that could be easily hidden in a backpack or suitcase. This is the biggest reason to refuse to deal with thorium fuel altogether."
Grae dismissed these concerns, saying the process developed by Radkowsky, Thorium Power's former chief designer, essentially eliminates uranium-233 as a byproduct. "In our design, almost all of the uranium-233 that is produced is burned instantaneously in the core as it is produced, generating some of the reactor's power," he said.
Experts familiar with Radkowsky's work backed Grae's claim. Richard Garwin, a physicist who helped build the U.S. hydrogen bomb and the author of several books on nuclear proliferation and security issues, said in an e-mail interview from New York that under certain circumstances it is indeed possible to completely eliminate uranium-233 when burning thorium fuel. "If the thorium fuel is mixed with some natural or depleted uranium, then the U-233 cannot be separated chemically from U-238. It is true that most of the U-233 is burned up during the long residence time - which is typically nine years, as I understand it," Garwin said.
A Russian nuclear physicist working on the thorium project said the new fuel assemblies that will go into existing reactors to handle the thorium are designed to work for exactly nine years. Rachkov, the Nuclear Power Ministry's pointman for the thorium venture, said that although Russia is in no rush to introduce the new fuel, the project will continue with or without U.S. funding. "When the first assemblies prove good, we will start calculations, and we will be able to say clearly what thorium's prospects are as a fuel," he said. "But nothing will be completely clear until real fuel is used in real reactors, which will take two to three years." And if U.S. funding dries up, "we will finish what we have started, but we will not start anything new," Rachkov said.

© Copyright 2002, The Moscow Times. All Rights Reserved
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Продолжение дайджеста за АПРЕЛЬ 2003 года (часть 2)

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