Sunday, November 20, 2016

Innovative Nuclear Energy Systems:

A Fascinating Symposium

I recently had the pleasure of participating in INES-5 in Tokyo, Japan--the fifth Innovative Nuclear Energy Systems symposium held since 2004--and wanted to share my observations from that meeting. 

I participated as an invited speaker in a special memorial session in honor of MIT Professor Mujid Kazimi, who died last year.  Although that session started the meeting on a somber note, the rest of the meeting was more upbeat, as it highlighted innovative developments and initiatives in all areas of nuclear technology.  I'm sure Mujid would have been pleased to hear of some of this work.

The meeting was a special delight for me, as it was held on the campus of Tokyo Institute of Technology, where I had previously spent a year as a visiting professor in the Research Laboratory for Nuclear Reactors (now the Laboratory for Advanced Nuclear Energy).  It was fun to return to the campus, to pass some familiar spots and reminisce, and to see all the new buildings and other changes.  And to reconnect with several of the professors I had worked with while I was there.

The meeting was a trip down memory lane in another respect as well.  I was a participant (along with Prof. Kazimi) in the first INES conference in 2004.  I participated again in the second INES conference in 2006.  

The meeting had speakers and participants from around the world.  The vast majority were from Asia, particularly Japan, of course, but some were also from at least a half dozen other countries in Asia. Other countries represented ranged from countries with operating nuclear power plants, like China, Korea, and India, to countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and Mongolia, that currently have nuclear research programs, and may have possible future ambitions for nuclear power plants.  In addition, there were also participants from the U.S. and from several European countries.  What was particularly impressive was that the symposium included a lot of students and highlighted some of the interesting work they are doing. 

The special session on Prof. Kazimi covered some of his work, and also highlighted his character.  The session was introduced by Prof. Yukitaka Kato, one of the chairs of the symposium, and the speakers included Prof. Emeritus Hiroshi Sekimoto, a former professor from TITech, Professor Ron Ballinger from MIT, and myself.  Sekimoto, who had worked with Kazimi, recognized the long-standing ties Kazimi had with TITech, and recounted some of his personal memories of Kazimi.  Ballinger described Kazimi's research activities, and also commented on his outstanding relationships with students and MIT faculty.  I tried to put some of his work in the context of what is happening today in the U.S. in the advanced reactor area.  I had known Mujid for many years (the photo below shows us both participating in a summer course at MIT in 2000), but had not worked with him as much as the other speakers, so felt particularly honored to be included in the session.