Kolkata to house Asia’s second lab to study supernova conditions

To be built at a cost of Rs 870 cr, the facility will help in the discovery of isotopes that could have medicinal applications

Asia's second advanced facility for conducting experiment of Unstable & Rare-Isotope Beams will come up at the Rajarhat campus of Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) in Kolkata. Japan is the only other Asian country to have this facility. The USA, France, Canada are the other three countries to have similar research facilities.

The new facility called ANURIB (Advanced National facility for Unstable & Rare-Isotope Beams), which will come up over eights acres inside the 25-acre campus at a cost of Rs 869 crore, will conduct experiments that will help the scientists to understand the structure of nuclei, particularly the unstable ones.

"The facility and the research will give us complete information on nuclear forces and nuclear equators of a state which controls supernova explosions where all the elements heavier than Iron are produced. As far as the general usage is concerned, it is quite possible that it may help in the discovery of many isotopes, which could have great applications in the field of medicine and material science," said Dr Dinesh Srivastava, Director, VECC.

Bikash Sinha, an eminent Indian physicist, active in the fields of nuclear physics and high energy physics and the former director of Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics and VECC, said: "We have started the work in the 12th Five-Year Plan. The facility will be completed in three phases. The duration of period is not certain as of now. The first phase will be completed in five years, and the second phase will take 10 years to be completed."

According to Srivastava, the planning, design and the Detailed Project Report have been completed. "We have decided to start construction work in June this year," he said.

The facility will be constructed in a collaboration with Canada-based research institute TRIUMF. "The TRIUMF is supporting us in making superconducting electron linec and for developing actinide target. At present, 35 scientists are working on the project and soon all of the 200 scientists and 400 technicians will join the team," added Srivastava.

All energy resources must be harnessed: Kakodkar

Eminent nuclear physicist Anil Kakodkar on Saturday said the nation is going to regret if the available energy resources are not used to set up power plants in the country. Speaking on the sidelines of the plenary session of the 100th Science Congress, Kakodkar said: "The way the requirement of power in India is increasing, we have to use all the possible energy resources available in the country, including nuclear power to build adequate number of power plants. We must make sure that we are using all kinds of energy resources to set up power plants. However, we think that we are not doing enough to meet the requirement of power in the country," said Kakodkar. He was replying to a question when asked about West Bengal government's decision to scrap the proposed nuclear power plant project at Haripur in East Midnapore.

Kakodkar said the apprehensions over the usage of nuclear power might lead to a non utilisation of available resources. "We must have as many power plants, including nuclear power, as possible. I think we are not doing enough to use resources, which we are going to regret in the future," he said.

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