Alternate Use of Atomic Energy

Alternate Use of Atomic Energy

Atomic Energy is being used for various applications which are beneficial to mankind. Nuclear energy is also used for the production of radioisotopes in the country. Radioisotopes are used in medicine, industry, hydrology, agriculture and research and constitute one of the important peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Some of the technologies developed by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are:

1. Agriculture

Using radiation induced mutagenesis along with cross breeding, DAE has developed 44 varieties in oilseeds (groundnut, mustard, soybean and sunflower), pulses (urdbean, mungbean, pigeonpea, cowpea), rice and jute, which have been released and notified for commercial cultivation across the country. Some of the desirable traits in these crops include higher yield, seed size, improved agronomic and quality traits, early maturity and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.

Several of these varieties have high patronage from the farming community and are extensively grown in the country.

2. Food preservation

Preservation of food forms another important area for National Food Security. Feasibility of food irradiation for preservation has been studied for a number of agricultural and food commodities for several years. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) notified Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Sixth Amendment, 2016 and the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Fourth Amendment, 2016 related to standards and labeling requirements for irradiated foods.

3. Municipal Waste Sludge Hygienisation

DAE has set up the first dry sludge Hygienisation Plant at Ahmedabad, Gujarat for treatment of 110 ton/day dry sludge. This would enable use of safe sludge for agricultural applications.

4. Health Care

(i) Radioisotopes

The Radiation Medicine Centre (RMC), Parel, Mumbai, started in 1963 is in the forefront of practicing Nuclear Medicine for health care. Nuclear Medicine uses radioactive isotopes (radio-isotopes) for the noninvasive diagnosis of several human diseases, including cardiology, oncology (cancer), neurology, psychiatry and infectious diseases and for the treatment of thyrotoxicosis, thyroid cancer, neuroendocrine tumours, neural crest tumours, bone-pain palliation etc. The benefit to the patient from an early and improved diagnosis and treatment far outweighs the risk from the radiation exposure due to the administered radio-pharmaceutical.

(ii) Imaging

PET-imaging has revolutionized cancer diagnosis by making possible early detection. Several thousand patients are referred to RMC each year and the average for the last three years is close to 25,000 per year. This includes PET-imaging for cancer diagnosis, staging, therapy planning and management. The cost to the patient is the lowest, compared to any other nuclear medicine centre in India. RMC has the largest registry in India for radio-isotope therapy for thyroid cancer and neuroendocrine tumours.

(iii) Bhabhatron

Bhabhatron is an indigenous tele-cobalt machine developed by DAE for cancer treatment with High Source Capacity of 250 RMM (Roentgen/min. at 1 meter). The design of machine is as per the compliance to requirements of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the extensive clinical trials at Tata Memorial Centre have been carried out successfully.

Further, an automated multi-leaf collimator with treatment planning system has been developed and implemented in Bhabhatron-II.