Director’s Special Colloquium: ‘Nuclear Energy’
Carlo Rubbia, Nobel laureate in physics and former director-general and current senior scientist at CERN, will present “Nuclear Energy” at a Director’s Special Colloquium on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. The colloquium begins at 2 p.m. in the Building 402 Auditorium. All employees whose schedules permit are invited to attend.
Shuttle service will be provided beginning at 1:15 p.m. with first stop at Building 201, then stops at 212, 202, 223, 203, 200, 205 and 362 to Building 402. Return trips will follow the talk.
The history of nuclear energy will be briefly discussed. The early interest in energy production from nuclei has been associated with the discovery of the neutron in the early thirties and of nuclear fission in 1938. During World War II, the main applications had been military and related to the use of uranium and plutonium.
The first reactor for the production of peaceful nuclear power was operated in 1950. Today, 447 commercial reactors produce about five percent of the world’s primary energy with 390 GWe in 31 countries. About 250 reactors for research are operating in 55 countries.
The very long lifetime of the fission fragments, approaching one million years, and the occurrence of several serious nuclear accidents have created strong concerns and limited both the expansion and sometimes even the continuation of nuclear energy programs in the foreseeable future.
The future success of nuclear power will strongly depend on the ability of transmuting the waste into shorter-lived products, for instance replacing uranium with thorium fuels and adopting accelerator driven systems to control more effectively the fission process.
Carlo Rubbia graduated in physics at Scuola Normale of Pisa. In 1959 he obtained his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Since 1961 he has been working at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, serving as its director general from 1989 to 1994.
In early 1983 an international team of more than 100 physicists headed by Rubbia and known as the UA1 Collaboration, detected the intermediate vector bosons. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for this discovery together with Simon van der Meer.
From 1972 to 1989 Rubbia has held the Higgins Professorship of Physics at Harvard University. He was the President of Sincrotrone Trieste – Synchrotron Light Radiation Source (1986 -1994), the company in charge of building ELETTRA, one of the first third-generation synchrotron radiation sources in the world, together with Berkeley and Grenoble.
During the 1990s Rubbia proposed the concept of an energy amplifier (ADS) – a novel and safe way of producing practically unlimited nuclear energy exploiting present-day accelerator technologies from natural thorium and depleted uranium. The energy resources potentially deriving from this technology, which is actively being studied worldwide, will be practically unlimited and non-proliferating.
During his term as president of ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (1999-2005), he developed a novel method for concentrating solar power at high temperatures for energy production, known as the Archimedes Project, which is presently being developed by industry for commercial use.
From 2005 to 2009 Rubbia was the principal scientific adviser of the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT). In 2009 he was appointed Special Adviser for Energy to the Secretary General of ECLAC, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
From 2010 to 2015 he was the scientific director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, where he has identified and developed new technological solutions to meet the energy challenges of the future. Key aspects of these activities targeted improving the reliability of renewable energy sources, developing more efficient electric-power transmission technologies and implementing low-carbon uses of fossil fuels. The research activities followed an interdisciplinary approach to energy research, development and support for industrial innovation.
Rubbia has received many honors and prizes and holds 34 honorary degrees.