Vietnam Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology (VINANST-13): An international professional forum

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From 7th to 9th August 2019, Vietnam Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology (VINANST-13) was held by Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM) in cooperation with International Centre of Physics (a unit under the auspices of UNESCO and belongs to Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology) in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.

 

The participants at VINANST-13

 

Over 430 participants, including 75 foreign professors and experts and over 355 domestic attendees from institutes, universities, management agencies and organizations relevant to atomic energy gathered at Vinpearl Ha Long Resort, Reu Island for the three-day-long conference. This event opened a wide range of discussions on issues of narrow specialized fields of nuclear energy, involving nuclear astrophysics, application of nuclear technology in the fields of socio-economic life such as health, industry, agriculture, environmental protection.

 

The conference honorably welcomed very important guests, including Dr. Pham Cong Tac – Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Ms. Vu Thi Thu Thuy – Vice Chairman of Quang Ninh People’s Committee, Mr. Nguyen Hoa Hiep – Vice Chairman of Dong Nai People’s Committee, Mr. Tran Hong Thai – Director General of Vietnam Meteorological and Hydrological Administration, Dr. Tran Chi Thanh – President of VINATOM and chairman of Organizing Committee, Austria-based Filipino scientist Dr. Jane Gerado Abaya – IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation Asia and the Pacific Division Director,  Mr. Olivier Sigaud – French Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam and Ms. Nina Palmer – representative of  USA Department of Energy.

 

A glance at the conference program

 

VINANST-13 consisted of 235 select presentations (168 oral presentations and 67 posters) delivered by Vietnamese and foreign researchers in Plenary session and six below specific sessions.

Session A: Nuclear Reactor, Nuclear Power and Human Resources Training

Session B: Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Data, Accelerators, and Nuclear Analysis

Session C: Radiation Measurement, Radiation Safety and Environmental Monitoring

Session D: Application of Radiation Technology and Nuclear Techniques in Industry, Agriculture, Healthcare and others.

Session E: Radiochemistry, Radiation Chemistry and Nuclear Chemistry, Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Nuclear Material Technology, and Radioactive Waste Management.

 

At Plenary session, participants listened to presentations from invited speakers, such as Dr. Gerado-Abaya, Nuclear Science and Technology for Sustainable Development:  The Contribution of the IAEA Technical Cooperation (TC) Program”. She gave an overview of the scale of the TC program and highlighted some key figures. “In 2018, we supported over 3600 expert missions, more than 3200 training course participants, and 1816 fellows and scientific visitors. Overall, the TC program delivered support to 146 countries and territories through over 1000 TC projects which contributed to the sustainable development of Member States. To do this, we disbursed 94.7 million Euro.” She added that the availability of skilled staff is a cornerstone of the sustainability of the nuclear application and nuclear energy sector.

 

Prof. Masaki Saito (Japan), Prof. Pham Duy Hien and Dr. Tran Chi Thanh at Plenary Session of VINANST-13

 

Dr. Tran Chi Thanh shared current status of VINATOM’s R&D and the new research reactor project in Vietnam. “Atomic energy sector in Vietnam has been established and developed for more than 40 years. VINATOM has been covering a broad spectrum of R&D activities and application to contribute to socio-economic development of the country. However, the atomic energy sector should step on a new level of development. Vietnam has a plan to build a new Research Reactor (RR): pool type reactor; 10-15 MWt in the next 7-10 years to replace the current Dalat research reactor”, he emphasized. He quoted “Science brings nations together” – a slogan of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, Russia to welcome and appreciate strong support from IAEA and other countries for Vietnam.

 

In addition, the program of Plenary session was composed of other thought-provoking presentations from representatives of European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN), RIKEN – Japan Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, GSI Helmholtzzentrum Darmstadt – Germany, University of Texas, USA, Dalat Nuclear Research Institute – Vietnam, VINATOM, Bach Mai Hospital – Vietnam, the Wigner Research Center for Physics – Hungary, Chalmers University of Technology – Sweden, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, etc. The program was made available on VINANST-13 official website: http://vinanst.vinatom.gov.vn/

 

Within the framework of VINANST-13, IAEA Workshop on “Applications of Nuclear and Isotope Techniques for Water and Environment Studies” was arranged.  Two-hour workshop highlighted the potentials of applications of nuclear technology and brought out research and training suggestions as well as partnership opportunities for IAEA – VINATOM Collaborating Center for Water and Environment in the forthcoming time.

 

Learning and applying international standards

 

On the sidelines of VINANST-13, Dr. Tran Chi Thanh shared, to make the conference possible to become an event at the regional and international level like current VINANST is not easily done. It is the result of ongoing and great efforts of those who have been working in nuclear science for the last 7 years.

 

Looking around the world, Dr. Tran Chi Thanh realized that most countries, including the pioneering countries in the creation and export of nuclear technology generations such as Russia, America, England, France, Canada and those who import and develop nuclear technology like Japan, Korea, India, Germany, built up their own nuclear “brands” attached with international conferences. For instance, there was International Congress on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants ICAPP, ANS Winter & Expo, AtomExpo Conference ROSATOM, Russia, and International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Reactor Thermal-Hydraulics, Operation and Safety (NUTHOS Japan). Every country feels proud to be able to initiate such professional forums. In the following countries like Japan or South Korea, it took more or less ten years to succeed and confirm their reputation internationally.

 

As the matter of fact, an international conference is one of the most effective ways for countries to bring together the world’s leading researchers, and discuss the heated issues in each specialized field. On the other hand, in Vietnam, there are not a wide range of the materials on atomic energy in general and nuclear technology in particular; thus, an international conference is an opportunity for domestic researchers to expand their knowledge and update what the world is doing.

 

Moreover, to start a change from national to international conference and embracing the difficulties were a really tough process, together with much more demanding requirements. For example, the rapporteurs must write and make presentations in English; the steps for conference organization must comply with international standards, resulting in heavy loads of preparation work, time and attempts. Therefore, Dr. Thanh highlighted that managers, researchers and officials in Vietnam have had to strive for the conference so that international experts might recognize the potentials of Vietnam nuclear sector and their needs to collaborate and promote connectivity.

 

Participants attentively listened to the presentations

 

VINANST creating values

 

VINANST-13 took place in the context when Vietnam nuclear industry is making new changes: the quantity and quality of international publications are upward; international cooperation between VINATOM and IAEA, research institutes and universities of Russia, USA, Sweden, Japan, and Germany is constantly expanding; and a young generation of researchers and officials is working for VINATOM. There is no doubt that the conference has had positive influences. It has enabled VINATOM employees to work in an international environment, allowed the conference papers to be reviewed by leading experts, facilitated researchers to approach arising issues of the world which the invited speakers brought out.

 

According to the summarized data of the Organizing Committee, compared to the conference held in 2017 in Nha Trang, the number of participants this year has increased by about 20% (the highest of all times), the number of foreign delegates rose by 25%, the number of papers registered for presentation grew by 10%, the number of foreign delegates’ presentations climbed by 30%.

 

To further encourage the participation in VINANST, at the Closing ceremony, 7 presenters and 7 young researchers were awarded for the best papers and 2 reporters were honored for the best posters, marking the end of a memorable and successful conference.

 

In summary, VINANST is an important scientific event, which has great significance for actively promoting research, development, application of atomic energy in Vietnam. Maintaining and enhancing the quality of a multi-disciplinary scientific conference in compliance with international standards has created and spread the appeal of this professional forum.

 

Photos of VINANST-13

 

 

Pham Thi Thu Trang, Department of R&D Planning and Management, VINATOM