Monday, 10 November 2014

Nuclear Science Diversities Part 2

Apparently nuclear science is the future of all of man's endeavors and key to open doors to the clean energy that we all desire. It is true that there has been some problems on the way, several accidents but we learn a great deal and new unexpected discoveries are made. Over the years, we have relied on the conventional ways of food preservation that slows down the bacterial agents that causes food poisoning. Recently, food can be preserved using irradiation. This method is used in the South East Asian countries of Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea. It is WHO approved meaning it has no adverse effects to the food or cause no harm to when consumed. Irradiation, preserves longer than refrigeration. This is through the discovery of radiation that true is harmful in that it kills vital cells and organs to any living organism, but on the other side if well manipulated, it is used to preserve and maintain the quality of any agricultural produce. This is just ways how nuclear science and technology is evolving past the use of making destructive weapons and generation of energy. Countries going nuclear, discover the benefits and utilize for their economic and social needs. From observation, countries that have embraced use of nuclear technology enjoy an economic growth of more than 8% and also an increased investor interest. Kenya is looking forward to tripple her economic growth rate and one of the pillars is sustainable energy, where a significant part will come from nuclear energy.

Nuclear Diversities

Just recently the Food and Agricultural Organization (F.A.O) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A), made a scientific breakthrough in identifying the Asian Fruit Fly and the Philippine Fruit Fly as identical through genetic mapping and a way to combat the menace that has dogged the horticultural industry of Asia and Africa. Through Irradiation, where the male fruit flies are sterilized and released to the populous this results to reduction of the population thus limiting their movements and population increase. Over the years the horticultural industry particularly in Africa has faced challenges owing to the fruit fly. It has made farmers to spend more on pesticide and still have to meet a particular level of toxins inside the fruits that will not be harmful for human consumption. The use of nuclear technology in this is phenomenal as it will be used to save horticultural farmers a lot of money from buying pesticides that later will affect the environment as these chemicals sip into the soil. This is relevant for Kenya where most of her exports come from horticulture industry. Use of nuclear technology will not just be used in controlling the pests and diseases, but in food preservation through irradiation. This something that Kenya needs, not just for electricity generation but other uses such as agriculture, research and medicine.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Change of Guard

The Fukushima Dai Chii power plant had been considered the worst ever nuclear accident since Chernobyl, but unlike Chernobyl, Japan is now making plans to reopen the power plant after new safety measures have been put in place. Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe revealed a basic plan to bring back the 48 power plants that supply the country with 30 percent of her energy requirements online. This is also due to the current inconsistency of the current renewable sources of power and the increase of oil and gas imports for their thermal power plants. This closing down of their plants was a decision to look into the alternative of renewable energy, solar and wind but with the economic demands and her production capacity going down and an increase of 50% of power costs, forcing their major manufacturing plants to either reduce their production or lay off workers. A trade deficit of 120 million pounds from March 2011 and an insult to the Kyoto protocol that they have been upholding and further insulting as the protocol is named after one of their renowned cities. Carbon emissions have doubled as they have had to rely on oil and gas, which are expensive and have a lower energy output compared to nuclear power that will take years before replacing them. This is how significant nuclear power is to an economy and the environment. It is just a bit saddening that people tend to see the negative aspect and expect the worst rather than the positive possibilities. When the disaster hit everyone were up in arms claiming how nuclear energy and technology is dangerous, some reaped profits writing books and making sales using the Fukushima incident as a convincing tool for people to buy their products. This goes to companies dealing with oil, gas and solar. Oil, coal and gas have some serious adverse effects on the environment, to some extent one would say the dark ages are to blame as no scientific discovery was made and any attempt was deemed as religious blasphemy,so over the years, man has relied on the latter three. Introduction of nuclear technology could have been discovered earlier than the 20th century and now we could have made some several improvements where the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters would not have become the cliches of environmental disasters. Nuclear technology is here to stay and from every hitch something new is discovered and in the coming future, there will be little or no carbon emissions as oil and gas will be phased out and nuclear energy will be the conduit for nations to go green.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

NEED

The precursor of human civilization was spawned by what can be termed with one word need. The need for sustainability on numerous aspects. The need for safety and the need for food security. This later resulted to other needs. The era of the Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamia and other civilization practically revolved around these two needs, however over time then there was the need for clothing then later education for sustaining food production and public safety. It was through the rapid increase in population and thus the need for employment that later the need to have more businesses to grow and industries. This resulted to the need for energy to power the growing industries. The unfortunate situation is that over years, we have relied on fossil fuels for thousands of years resulting to environmental degradation that later brought about the need to preserve the environment. The mounting pressure has resulted to looking at sources such as solar, wind, hydro electric, tidal power, geothermal and nuclear. Oil and gas are still in use however with the speculation of oil wells drying up in the near future, there will be need to have other sources that are consistent and sustainable. For consistency purposes, people are setting their eyes on nuclear power. The interesting thing about nuclear power is its high energy yield and no carbon emissions compared to coal, oil and gas. A small nuclear pellet of 2.5 centimeter in height and 1 centimeter in diameter has an energy yield of one ton of coal that produces 2.06 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy is being embraced by several countries for their economic upheaval as the energy produced last years and is cheaper compared to buying millions of litres of oil or gas for millions of dollars that can be used for investments. However, the other side is handling the radio active waste that people claim that it will have adverse effects on the environment. People need to know that we live in a planet that obeys the newtons third law of motion that states for every action, there is always an equal opposite reaction. This is to say the radiation can be countered by nature's own sunflower plants that are capable of absorbing radiation and clean the environment of it. The experiment was used in Chernobyl and now Fukushima to clear the contamination. It is however interesting that those who claim to criticize the use of nuclear power particularly in Africa, they happen not to provide an alternative. Nuclear accidents are unpredictable but can be contained. The problem is the accidents are the one that people find easy to talk about than how it is contained. After the Chernobyl disaster, the need for rigorous safety measures were put into place and more instead it inspired many to venture into research on safety, nuclear fusion and other applications where a lot of discovery was done so far. The need to embrace nuclear technology for electricity generation and other applications has increased over time. Kenya stands to gain with the embracing of Nuclear technology, not just for electricity generation but for the future.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Lessons from Sun Tzu

The book Art of War was written by a Chinese General Sun Tzu, we learn a lot from the book as it is and has been used by famous military strategists and leaders alike on how to govern, rule and strategize, the likes of China's Mao Tse Tung, General Douglas Mc Arthur, one of U.S most renowned generals of World War 2 era. Businesses also derive inspirations form military tactics pertaining to leadership and market penetration. One of the quotes from the book that defines strategic management is 'Know thy self and the enemy and will be victorious'. This means that if you understand yourself, your strengths, weaknesses same as the enemy's and use what you have at your disposal plus take advantage of your adversary's weakness, you will always win in the end. Kenya is taking a bold step towards nuclear electricity generation as part of its Vision 2030 pillars. Despite the fears mixed with a lot of skepticism and negative criticism, the Kenyan Government is still pressing on with the project as the benefits outweigh the costs. The first strategy is that the country realized that the economy cannot grow without a reliable and consistent source of energy, this is a weakness to achieving economic stability, it does realize that there is a fast growing and capable human resource and need little training to little or no cost at all. The nuclear project is being embraced all in several countries in Africa and this is Kenya's threat as this will diminish the economic competitiveness and investors might shy away due unreliable and expensive energy costs. The other threat unfortunately is from within. As much as Kenya has a large human resource capability, but few know about Nuclear Science and nuclear engineering plus over the years, the negativity that has clouded the minds of the citizens on nuclear technology. To counter this, the country has embarked on some strategies, the first was to establish a state corporation that will handle matters concerning the development of nuclear technology and has set date lines where the first nuclear power plant to be commissioned by 2022 and to add three more plants by 2030. Secondly, the country has embarked on a capacity building program where 15 university graduates in engineering and physical science fields are selected on an annual basis, to do a post graduate degree in Nuclear Science, free of charge. Third, is to dispel the fears and the negativity surrounding nuclear science, where the state corporation, Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board has been tasked to publicize and advocate the benefits of nuclear technology to the citizens and what they stand to gain. The Publicity and Advocacy department of the state corp has the capability of handling queries, give updates on the latest advancements and in depth information regarding the negative aspect of nuclear technology, as a way to fight off skepticism and erroneous information bestowed on people. All this is based on the first chapter from the book Art of War and its working as there is some significant progress in educating the public at events such as the International Trade Fair of Nairobi and agricultural shows of Mombasa and Kisumu. Giving of careers talk encouraging the students of High school, and University in taking an interest on science classes as there is need for nuclear engineers, artisans, lawyers, journalists and researchers, particularly researchers as they will open the gateway to new discoveries for the future.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The power of will

As I was a young boy, i used to read comic books of some several superhero characters, like DC Comics, Superman, The Batman, and Marvel's X-Men and what's more interesting is when i grew older i transcended from reading the comic books and watching the movies. Few were skeptical as bringing these characters to life when i was small but now we get to watch them in the theaters even the skeptics and realists where some even enjoy watching the movies from the comic books that they used to criticize. This is through the willpower of the writers to change the minds of people, through a different way of thinking and communicating. They used the power of the cinema. The same can be used when it comes to Nuclear energy in Kenya. A lot of people get to hear just the word nuclear, the first thing that gets to their heads is either the bomb, the radiation and the accidents, not to forget the expense. A lot of people lack the will to see things on both sides, what i mean is they forget the progress that countries have had using nuclear energy, the carbon emission reduction through it and advancements in medicine, agriculture, defense and modern day industrial revolution. They forget to see the will power of one Curie Marie who pioneered the research of radio activity that now we talk about Nuclear Science and Technology. It is amazing that in history she is the only one to win the coveted Nobel Price twice in two different fields, so how is that for an achievement all spawned by the will to make a better living and a difference. Kenya needs sustainable energy for its economy as it grows the more energy is needed, the truth of the matter is the other energy sources will still not provide what is demanded come 2030 and the for the next years to come. 17,000 Megawatts is needed (Mw) by vision 2030 and also for the surging mining industry that our government has taken keen interest in. The rare earth minerals in Taita Taveta and Kwale County need a constant amount of energy for the production process that currently Kenya cannot produce the needed quantity to compete with the big boys with the current energy output. Nuclear energy is consistent and not vulnerable to weather conditions and the source fuel has a very high energy output. For Kenya to transcend from its developing nation status to developed nation, it will need the willpower of her citizens to embrace the nuclear energy for electricity generation. It will need the willpower of the current bunch of science oriented citizens to understand the fundamentals of nuclear science, to use this knowledge for the good of the country and its prosperity. It feels somewhat degrading as other countries like Algeria and South Africa embracing nuclear science mostly for economic purposes and other positive possibilities that comes with it. All it has taken is the will of the people of these country to see themselves making a difference and making their lives better, for the current generation and the future generation. The power of will towards nuclear technology for electricity generation is what will bring out the best of Kenya and what it has to offer. We have so far proved innovative resourceful in several fields, such as business, where we are leading in Mobile phone banking and other innovative ideas in agriculture and even medicine, if you can recall several discoveries in treating HIV/AIDS, e.g. the Kemron drug developed in the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) labs. This is through the willpower of one Dr. Davy Koech. Imagine if we embrace nuclear technology, the possibilities that will emerge, a shift in the need for environmental conservation, where less trees will be cut and less carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal. Research in nuclear fusion that will possibly be the needed technology of the ever imagined interstellar travel or deep ocean exploration. All this is through the will of the Kenyan people to take a positive keen interest on nuclear technology, as a tool of a prosperous future.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Element of Fear

When the topic of nuclear technology first breaches into peoples minds, the first thing that runs through their heads is destruction and more destruction. The negativity behind it for years has overshadowed the good behind it. All people see is the accidents of the plants and claiming that there is other options. The truth is the other options are not enough and that is why nuclear technology comes in. Kenya is in need of energy to push it to it potential. A lot claim that the other sources are viable but they tend to turn a blind eye on the consequences. The land question in Kenya is one such consequence and that points to solar power and wind as for it to produce the needed power output, a lot of families will have to be relocated and that is a recipe for forthcoming disaster that might last for years. Anther fear is based on the historical events of the second world war of 1939 and the cold war, that brought the rise of the Nuclear weapons race for more than thirty years. Other countries had formed factions during the cold war era and some followed to make nuclear weapons of their own for 'fear' of attack and to defend themselves and to flex their military muscle. This has made people fear the use of nuclear technology and some have risen to speak out against it. Nuclear technology goes beyond just making weapons and causing environmental degradation. Ironically if we look at the good side of nuclear technology that people have turned a blind eye. Lets begin with the basics, such as X-ray scans in hospitals for medical purposes, the cruise ships, the air craft carriers and the submarines all run on nuclear fuel, factories such as the Al Jubail 2 a water desalinization plan in Saudi Arabia that runs on nuclear fuel for the process. This is however ironic as Saudi Arabia is one of the leading countries in oil production and exportation. Other uses of nuclear technology are in agriculture, for the production of new strains that are resistant to drastic weather conditions that Kenya should borrow a leaf from. In Mali, they have embraced the use of irradiation for the production of drought resistant sorghum and rice that have a high market value. Unfortunately, in Kenya there has been fear of the so called genetically modified foods claiming that it will have adverse effects to peoples' health and take a country like Mali that have no reported cancer cases based on the irradiated strains of their farm produce. So the element of fear strikes and brings out the negativity and later Kenya ends up having to deal with drought and famine, while a permanent solution is painted as wrong. The fear of nuclear technology also brings about lack of the capacity needed for the nuclear electricity generation program. Proof of this was at the Nairobi International Trade Fair, when a concerned citizen asked me if the nuclear science program was marketable. I noticed the fear in the person as if should one decides to take a career in nuclear science as to what are the odds of one getting a job. I had to explain the numerous benefits of nuclear science and it transcends or cuts across several careers. As for electricity generation, the fear of accidents is already in the minds of many due to the recent situation of the Fukushima Dai chii power plant in Japan. Many think of it as human error but it was the unforeseeable disasters that affected it. The environmental degradation that comes with it that overlooks that the nuclear fuel cells are recyclable and its energy output makes it last for years before decommissioning. All in all the element of fear, coupled with ignorance is a serious challenge to Kenyans and nuclear technology is the key to unlocking new discoveries and solving the current and future challenges in Kenya.