Philippine Nuclear Research Institute

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Philippines Serves as Pilot country for the IWAVE Project

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Capitalizing on the unique advantage of nuclear technology, the Philippines joins the world in providing better access to clean and safe drinking water as it takes a pioneering role in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Water Availability Enhancement Project, or IWAVE.

The Philippines is the first Member State of the IAEA to participate in the project, followed by Oman and Costa Rica. IWAVE aims to build capacity in these Member States and assist them in gathering and using scientific information to fully assess the availability and quality of water resources, contributing to the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people worldwide without access to clean drinking water by 2015.

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) implements the I-WAVE project in collaboration with the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB) and other water-based agencies.

In 2011, PNRI, NWRB and MGB, with contributions from other water agencies, began developing a Philippine Hydrological Gap Plan which agrees to fill the technology, expertise, infrastructure and investments needed. The report entitled “Investment Needs for Resource Assessment Capability in the Philippines to Improve the Planning and Management of Water Infrastructure” was completed in August 2012 and published the following month.

An adequate national assessment of water sources is the first and vital step in making these resources more accessible. Assisting the MGB project on Groundwater Resources and Vulnerability Assessment of the Philippines (GRVAP), the IAEA and PNRI lent their expertise in the design and application of isotope hydrology techniques with data analysis and i nterpretation in Water Resources Regions (WRR) 2 and 10 through a Technical Contract. The project covers the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya and Quirino in Region 2, and Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Dinagat Islands, Surigao Del Norte, Agusan Del Sur and Agusan Del Norte in Region 10. The water districts in these municipalities are collaborating in the endeavor.

The isotope hydrology approaches that are developed and tested will be replicated in other water critical areas which will be undertaken within the 2014-2015 IAEA Technical Cooperation project “Intergrating Isotope Techniques for Increasing Effectiveness in Water Assessment and Management.”

With corresponding support under the IWAVE project, capacity building activities to address identified priority gaps have been implemented, with some still underway. These include conducting national workshops where appropriate international experts were invited and training courses on the application of hydrological tools to improve water resources assessment.






Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 02:24

IAEA Expert Presents Phase 3 of ASPAMARD

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Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 01:56

PNRI Hosts I-WAVE National Workshop on Isotope Data Interpretation

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Taking another step in supporting water agencies to provide our country with better access to water resources, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute hosted the National Workshop on Isotope Data Interpretation under the International Atomic Energy Agency – Water Availability Enhancement (I-WAVE) Project from February 17 to March 7, 2014.

Renowned experts in the field of isotope hydrology served as resource persons for the training workshop. Among them are Dr. Bhishm Kumar, Dr. Matsumoto Takuya, and Dr. Luis Araguas of the IAEA Isotope Hydrology Section; Prof. Jeffrey McDonnell, University of Aberdeen, School Geosciences, Aberdeen, UK; Prof. Neil Sturchio, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Chicago, USA, and Prof. Ian Clark, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa, Canada. They provided lectures on the principles of isotope techniques application related to groundwater assessment and groundwater dynamics and facilitated hands-on training on the use of software for groundwater dating. Moreover, through their expert guidance, they engaged the participants in the processing of past and present isotope, chemical and hydrogeological data and in the interpretation of these data to come up with conceptual models of the recharge in their respective study areas.

Participants in the three-week workshop were professionals in groundwater management and the water supply industry coming from various government agencies such as the National Water Resources Board, Local Water Utilities Administration, Bureau of Soils and Water Management, Mines and Geosciences Bureau and representatives from water districts in Regions 2 and 10. The water districts represented were the Metropolitan Tuguegarao Water District and Ilagan City Water Disctrict in , and Cagayan de Oro Water District, Butuan Water District and Manolo Fortich Water District in Region 10.

Dr. Soledad Castañeda, who heads PNRI’s Atomic Research Division, was the workshop’s Course Coordinator. PNRI researchers also participated in the training course. At the culmination of the workshop, the participants realized the importance of nuclear techniques in mapping surface and groundwater sources and in the assessment of vulnerability to contamination to improve the freshwater supply throughout the archipelago.

Contributing to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people worldwide without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, I-WAVE aims to make freshwater more available to the IAEA member states, with an emphasis on groundwater supply.

The Philippines is one of the pilot countries for the I-WAVE project along with Sultanate of Oman and Costa Rica.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 01:54

PNRI Develops Wound Dressing From Honey

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The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute – Department of Science and Technology (PNRI-DOST) has developed an effective wound dressing from local honey sources in the Philippines.

Science research specialists from PNRI’s Biomedical Research Section are taking advantage of the antimicrobial properties of these local products to produce a cheaper and comparable alternative – if not a better one already – to antibiotics for treating exudating wounds and burns.

“Honey has, since ancient days, been used for medicinal purposes; its composition makes it a very effective agent for healing wounds,” said Biomedical Research Section head Zenaida De Guzman.

According to Ms. De Guzman, honey is ideal as a wound dressing not only for its antimicrobial and potentially anti-inflammatory composition, but also for its low pH level that is suitable for fast healing.

Its sugar content helps in the granulation of wounds, while its low moisture gives honey a longer shelf-life. Furthermore, honey’s low water activity helps the dressing draw out water and pus, thereby drying the wound and reducing the chances of infection.

Among the samples obtained from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, three indigenous types of honey stood out: the pineapple flower honey from Bacolod which proved comparable to the average antibiotic, the scarce coconut honey from Mindanao and the natural dark honey found in the highlands of Northern Luzon, both of which matched and at times even bested antibiotics in dealing with pathogens such as Staphylococus aureus.

As they are readily available, these honey samples provided the material for the research section’s honey dressings.

Results from initial testing in rabbits showed that the dressing healed the wounds around the same time as the generic Neomycin; in some cases, the honey treatment was a day ahead of that with the antibiotic.

Pre-clinical testing conducted in a government hospital showed that with the Honey dressing, full treatment of a burn patient was achieved earlier by a month than the usual healing time.

Sodium alginate made from brown algae, already used by hospitals for dressings, serves as a base for the honey. They are mixed and molded into a gauze before being sprayed with calcium chloride to bind them.

After being cured, dried and packaged in vacuum-packed aluminum foil, the dressing is irradiated at 25 kilogray at PNRI’s Multipurpose Irradiation Facility to keep it microbe-free and longer-lasting.

The Biomedical Research Section applied for the honey dressing’s patent last year and hopes to eventually finish the clinical tests. Ms. De Guzman expects the product’s commercialization to begin by 2015.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 07:45

PNRI-DOST Establishes Electron Beam Irradiation Facility for Research and Industrial Applications

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The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute – Department of Science and Technology (PNRI – DOST) is establishing an Electron Beam (EB) Irradiation Facility at the PNRI compound in Diliman, Quezon City, bringing the country’s technology at par with the international community through the applications of radiation processing in various industries.

With this new facility, the PNRI takes the next step in its use of irradiation technologies. PNRI’s present Cobalt-60 Multipurpose Irradiation Facility has demonstrated many of the applications of radiation processing using gamma-rays and has been regularly serving clients from the food, packaging, medical products and pharmaceutical industries.

While the facility operates on a semi-commercial scale, the institute currently encourages industries to establish commercial irradiators to make an impact on the country’s sustainable development.

Over the past 30 years, both developed and developing countries all over the world have already established around 1,200 E-beam accelerators dedicated to commercial and industrial purposes. In Asia, electron accelerators are already used for commercial and industrial purposes in China, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

PNRI’s 2.5 MeV electron beam accelerator will be the first in the country intended for full-scale research and development and semi-commercial E-beam services.

While irradiation through gamma rays has certain advantages in radiation processing such as the deeper penetration of gamma rays for thicker materials, electron accelerators are capable of delivering higher dose rates than gamma radiation sources, speeding up the irradiation process. Electron beams can deposit the same energy as gamma radiation would, but in seconds instead of hours, allowing for applications which would otherwise be impractical using radiation sources since it would take extremely longer periods of time.

Hence, faster irradiation opens the doors to more potential applications such as improving the quality of automobile parts, plastics, fibers and semiconductors, better waste management, nanotechnology and jewelry – in addition to the already well-proven capabilities of gamma radiation.

Instead of using chemicals to harden, cure or change the composition of polymer and plastic-based products, radiation from electron beams can induce the cross-linking of molecules in various materials.

In cross-linking, polymers interact with each other to form a three-dimensional network, making tires, rubber sheets, wires, batteries and electrical industrial cables tougher and more resistant to heat, corrosion and chemical damage. The same process may also be applied to improve fabrics, paints, and food packaging materials.

“When you do cross-linking, you can practically increase the toughness of much lighter materials such as carbon fiber or reinforced plastic,” said Jordan Madrid, a Science Research Specialist from PNRI’s Chemistry Research Section.

Madrid participated in a regional training course in Korea in 2013 under a project entitled “Electron Beam Applications for Value Addition to Food and Industrial Products and Degradation of Environmental Pollutants in the Asia- Pacific Region.” The project was spearheaded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology for Asia and the Pacific (RCA).

E-beams may also be used for polymer grafting, where polymer chains are “grown” from the surfaces of polymers.

“There are so many possible applications of polymer grafting, but for the meantime, PNRI scientists are focusing on developing applications such as metal ion absorbents for water purification, catalysts for desired chemical reactions and chemical sensors, among others.” said Madrid, who also worked with electron beams in his research on polymer grafting under the Japanese government’s MEXT program.

In agriculture, electron beams will prove useful in irradiating food products for sprout inhibition, delaying fruit ripening, pasteurization and microbial decontamination.

Its applications in the medical field ranges from sterilizing medical pharmaceuticals and “high-purity” equipment such as scalpels and syringes to reinforcing specialized membranes with electronic and biological sensors without damaging sensitive components. Electron beams can also be used for synthesizing nanogels and microgels such as PNRI’s recently commercialized hydrogels for wounds and burns.

The higher dose rates would allow for faster irradiation of food and medical products, said Biomedical Research Section head Zenaida De Guzman.

“If it takes six to seven hours to irradiate our samples with gamma rays, the electron beam could deliver the same results in two hours. Overseas, however, electron beams could do it in as fast as thirty minutes,” she said.

The Biomedical Research section will be actively involved in research and development studies on the effects of the E-beam to meat and poultry or fully cooked meals such as chicken and pork adobo developed for patients needing clean or sterile diets.

“We aim to be able to extend the shelf-life of meals such as adobo compared to our previous results with gamma rays. With electron beams, we could even get faster results at even lesser doses of radiation,” she said.

Their more recent research on rice-in-a-box-style emergency meal for calamity victims consists of fried rice and chicken adobo. The experimental meal may also be developed to serve as military and relief rations.

The accelerator’s capabilities are also a welcome development in fighting pollution, particularly the E-beam’s potential in “hygienizing” sewage sludge and in treating or reprocessing of waste water and flue gases.

With enough doses, electron accelerators are able to alter the color and composition of gemstones, proving itself useful to the jewelry industry.

The establishment of the electron beam facility in the Philippines received financial support from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Japanese and US governments, and the Department of Science and Technology. After completing the installation and commissioning of the electron beam facility targeted in the middle of this year, PNRI will conduct trial runs on different samples and products.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 00:20
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