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The increasing importance of energy conversion

Frédérick Bordry, a French physicist and electrical engineer with a five-decade career, is widely known for his contributions to energy conversion and accelerator physics.

Most importantly, Dr Bordry has been a member of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, since 1986, when he joined the group working on the power converters for the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP). Dr Bordry held numerous posts at CERN, including Head of the CERN Technology Department and, most recently, Director for Accelerators and Technology. Despite the fact that his tenure as Director ends at the end of 2020, he remains an honorary member of CERN and works as a Scientific Advisor to numerous start-ups and initiatives that use particle accelerators.

Dr Bordry conducted a five-month sabbatical at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in April 2022. Among other scientific endeavors, he assisted in the commissioning of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS-II) upgrade.

As Bordry mentiones, the creation of an accelerator is a lengthy undertaking. The original concept for the LHC was developed in 1984, 10 years before its acceptance in 1994. Development and installation then lasted until 2005, with the first operational run taking place between 2010 and 2014. We must now anticipate the possibility for the next conceivable machine. We began thinking about the next accelerator in 2040 in 2015, and what we would need to create it. I was in charge of deciding all of the technologies that CERN would need to create in partnership with leading colleges and institutions across the world in order to prepare for what may be the next accelerator. My contract at CERN expired in 2020.

When considering what may be the new accelerator in 2040, it is critical that we build the technology now. My work centred on looking at futuristic technology that we know would be utilized for the next accelerator, but it was also vital to look at present technology in laboratories and universities that can be done through R&D transfer to industry.

When it comes to dealing with accelerators, I believe it is critical to focus on running the present technology while also considering what the next 15 years may contain and what the next accelerator may look like in the far future – he explains.

According to Dr Bordry, electrical energy generation is becoming increasingly important, especially as the move to electric cars accelerates. If we can generate green power, it will be tremendously beneficial to the transportation industry. The biggest issue with electricity generation, however, is that it cannot be stored, therefore it must be utilized as soon as it is generated.

CO2 is the most serious threat to mankind today. It is already a severe issue, and if we are unable to cut CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, humanity will be in serious trouble. We must rescue mankind, and in order to do so, we must be able to create and use energy without emitting CO2. Nuclear fission is required to do this.

Nuclear fission is the process by which a big atomic nucleus is divided into smaller nuclei, releasing a tremendous quantity of energy. It emits no CO2, which is quite essential. However, there are two key issues: safety and security, and nuclear waste. Safety and security have been improved significantly, but they may be improved further using a subcritical reactor known as Generation IV for nuclear waste transmutation.

A proton accelerator might be used to smash protons on targets, producing rapid neutrons and transmuting new elements that are less radioactive. You can cut the lifetime by a factor of 1000 (from 300,000 to 300 years) and the volume of radioactive waste by a factor of ten. This is an area in which I commit a lot of effort, notably in my work as Scientific Advisor for the Transmutex start-up for nuclear waste transmutation utilizing high intensity proton accelerators and energy generation using thorium.

Among his upcoming plans are to continue working within the Transmutex start-up; SEEIIST project, which aims to build an international accelerator facility for charged particle cancer therapy for Southeastern European countries. Also, VITAE project, an art and science project and a participative artwork by Anilore Banon, seeking to unite people across our globe.

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