Eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar said the proposed Neutrino Observatory (INO) project on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border is an Indian project, carried out in collaboration with the US, Europe and other countries.
"INO is an Indian project, though it will collaborate with the US, Europe and other countries. The muons (an elementary particle with unitary negative electric charge) from atmospheric neutrinos can be harnessed as an energy source for the future, but it would take a long time," Kakodkar said. He was in the city to attend a state planning board function.
Several scientists involved in the project have been saying that the project involves no was independent of foreign collaboration. They had even refuted reports that the second phase of the project envisaged a long baseline neutrino experiment of up to 11,000 km, using a neutrino beam from a foreign land, including the US-based Fermi Labs.
They had refuted it even as the report of the proposed INO project lays bare that its second phase envisages the long base-line neutrino experiment of up to 11000km using the neutrino beam from a neutrino factory in USA, Europe or Japan.
One of the leading scientists involved in the INO project, Scientist Prof Brajesh Choudhary denied that the INO project has any collaboration with US-based Fermilabs. "INO is an Indian project to study atmospheric neutrinos, I am working as part of another project on neutrinos at Fermilabs," said Choudhary who is currently a professor at Delhi University and a former scientist with the US based Fermi Labs. However, his INO project status report cites the collaboration of University of Delhi with Fermi Labs. His report also indicates that INO studies with installation of 50 to 100 kiloton large magnetized iron calorimeter detector will complement the long baseline and reactor experiments in Europe and other countries.
Chief spokesperson for the INO project Prof Naba K Mondal said it was a government-funded project without any foreign collaboration during the initial stage. He, however, said scientific collaboration with the US and Europe could be expected at a later stage.
Kakodkar said it was tough to predict whether reactor neutrinos could be used to detect the production of fissile materials. Any apprehensions on the contrary was the fear of the unknown, he said. A similar fear had made the US hostile towards nuclear waste management.
"Though the International Atomic Energy Agency has suggested closed fuel cycle as the best way to prevent wastage of spent fuel, such as uranium or plutonium, the US feared that reactors with closed fuel cycle will be utilized for clandestine nuclear arms production," he said.
In India, spent fuels have been recycled for use in the reactor. At present, 98 per cent of the 30 tonnes of fuel in a 200 MW nuclear reactor has been reprocessed, Kakodkar said. while ruling out the possibility of radiation for over 5000 years even if it's minimal
It is this fear that has prompted the US to be hostile to nuclear waste management. Though International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suggested closed fuel cycle as the best way to prevent wastage of spent fuel such as uranium or plutonium, the US fears that reactors with closed fuel cycle will be utilised for clandestine nuclear arms production," Kakodkar said.