The think tank funded by the Colombian government includes Jean Paul Allain, director of the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State, along with 42 other experts in different sectors. On Dec. 5, the group will present a report of its suggestions for the future growth of Colombia.
Mission Internacional de Sabios*,' which translated into the International Mission of Experts, was commissioned by Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez to shape the future of Colombia's growth by presenting a view of the country's research, engineering and social problems over the next few years. The newly created Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation in Colombia will oversee the implementation of this vision and will be included in the next National Development Plan* for Colombia. The National Development Plan focuses specifically on how the national government of Colombia aims and devotes its political efforts and economic resources.
"We aim to map out a plan for the research, technology and society activities of the nation over the next 10 to 20 years," Allain said. "Primarily, the National Development Plan concentrates on an opportunity implementation phase in the next four years."
Think tank members have held local and international conferences since February 2019 with a focus on opening talks with Colombian scientists and industry and government officials. The conferences held in Colombia in June and September 2019 resulted in written reforms that focused on the fields of expertise of the members, including science, research and innovation. Allain attended the meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, in September.
The team is comprised of professionals from around the world, including the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Argentina, France, Germany, South Korea, and the Netherlands. Allain, a resident of Colombia and a resident of the United States, is the only American and the only researcher who works as a member of the think tank.
"Colombia has an amazing opportunity to expand its resources of energy," said Allain. "Colombia is going through an amazing achievement as one of the longest-running democracies in Latin America."
Colombia derives most of its electricity from hydropower reserves, according to Allain, but the use of natural gas and coal is growing. Allain wants to suggest the use of advanced nuclear energy as a long-term strategy for the country to minimize its dependence on carbon-based energy sources, such as the presently used crude oil, coal and natural gas, which accounts for about 85 percent of the world energy use.
"I dream that the skills and technology will be built during the next few decades to harness advanced nuclear energy combined with renewables and achieve their 100% carbon-free footprint goals, while developing a sustainable economy that can lift more than 40% of the population out of poverty," Allain said. "It is one of many chances with emerging economies where compact generation of nuclear power could have a massive impact on their sustainability and decarbonization goals." One area of Allain's research focuses on compact nuclear reactors that are tinier than conventional nuclear reactors. Conventional nuclear plants can produce 1,000 megawatts or more of electricity.
Allain will lead to the group's extensive research in nuclear engineering, including Serge Haroche, co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics; Jorge Reynolds Pombo, a Colombian electrical engineer and inventor of the first external artificial pacemaker; Noh Kyoo-sung, CEO of the Korea Productivity Center; and Rodolfo Llinas, a Colombian neuroscientist and member of the Korea Productivity Center.
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