Nuclear waste expert to speak Oct. 2 at BGSU

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Dr. Rodney Ewing, an internationally known authority on the management of radioactive waste and its environmental impact, will speak Oct. 2 at Bowling Green State University as the 2007 McMaster Visiting Scientist.

Ewing has identified and been granted a patent for the development of a highly durable material that immobilizes nuclear waste and makes its storage less hazardous.

During his visit to campus, students and faculty will have the opportunity to meet with him and attend his lecture on “The Nuclear Fuel Cycle vs. the Carbon Cycle: Plutonium vs. Carbon” at
4 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 2) in 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The event is open to the public and will be followed by a reception.

Ewing is the Donald R. Peacor Collegiate Professor of Geological Sciences, the William Kerr Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences and a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Michigan. He has authored or co-authored more than 500 research publications and is a founding editor of Elements magazine. He has worked as a scientist in the United States, Europe, Israel, Japan, Denmark and Russia.

About 17 percent of the world's electricity is provided by nuclear power, which has only a modest impact on global carbon emissions, according to Ewing. In order to make a significant and timely impact on those emissions, most analyses suggest that carbon-free sources, such as nuclear power, would have to expand total energy production by factors of three to 10 by 2050. An increase on this scale has important implications for the production of nuclear waste and the potential for the diversion of fissile material, Ewing says.

Nuclear energy and weapons programs already have created more than 1,500 metric tons of plutonium. Each year the amount grows because of international efforts to reduce dependency on fossil fuel.

Ewing's work toward developing a material that will minimize the dangers of storing excess plutonium has received international attention. His efforts have been supported by U.S. agencies, the European Union and NATO as well as sources in Sweden, Germany, Australia and Japan.

He has received the Danna Medal of the Mineralogical Association of Canada, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Lomonosov Gold Medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is a two-time winner of the Hawley Medal of the Mineralogical Association of Canada.

The McMaster Visiting Scientist program at BGSU is underwritten by a $250,000 endowment funded by Helen and the late Harold McMaster. The longtime BGSU benefactors, from Perrysburg, funded the interdisciplinary program to bring eminent scholars or practitioners from the fields of chemistry, biology, geology, physics or astronomy to the University.

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(Posted September 25, 2007 )