DOST-PNRI’s famous dome which is actually the nuclear reactor with a zero-power configuration and can only be used for training and education purposes, and not for power generation
DOST-PNRI senior staff with Deputy Director Dr. Vallerie Ann Samson and Cong. Mark Cojuangco with the PNRI Reactor Team
PH nuclear agency reopens nuclear reactor training facility
The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) began today the loading of TRIGA nuclear fuel in the core of the Philippine Research Reactor-1 Subcritical Assembly for Training, Education, and Research (PRR-1 SATER), signaling the start of the nuclear commissioning of the PRR-1 SATER as the country’s sole nuclear reactor training facility.
The TRIGA fuel is a uranium zirconium hydride alloy manufactured by the General Atomics from the USA and is well-known for its inherent safety.
Meanwhile, the PRR-1 facility was shut down in 1988, leaving the country with no operating nuclear facility for the last 34 years. The commissioning of the PRR-1 SATER is a milestone for the country as the facility will provide significant support in re-establishing nuclear capabilities in the Philippines.
"This demonstrates that PNRI can handle nuclear materials. We've been handling it for the past 50, 60 years," said PNRI Director Dr. Carlo Arcilla.
The PRR-1 SATER has the following objectives as a nuclear facility:
• Support nuclear manpower development
• Accommodate local access to an operating nuclear facility
• Train reactor operators, users, and regulators
• Engage stakeholders in nuclear and reactor engineering
• Repurpose available resources of the historical PRR-1 facility
Once commissioned, the facility operators will apply for full operating license as it opens its doors to the research and academic community who will be given access the facility. The project was first conceptualized in 2014, but actual work in the facility began in 2017. It is expected to be fully operational by 2023. While not yet fully operational, the facility will be open for technical visits and awareness seminars on nuclear science and technology.
Classified as subcritical and with zero-power configuration, the PRR-1 SATER is inherently safe as a facility for nuclear education and research. It will support PNRI-initiated nuclear education programs that are being offered in UP Diliman since 2019 and Mapua University since 2020. Nuclear-related courses that can be supported by the facility include nuclear reactor engineering, neutron physics, reactor physics, nuclear safety, and radiation dosimetry, among others.
The fuel is being lowered into the core by PNRI’s nuclear reactor staff, guided by a digital monitor
PRR-1 SATER Project leader Dr. Alvie Astronomo shows to Cong. Mark Cojuangco a replica of a nuclear fuel rod, similar to what was used in today’s reactor fueling. Cong. Cojuangco is one of the main advocates for nuclear power in the country.
Officials from DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) and De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute (DLSMHSI) during the inauguration and blessing of the latter’s nuclear medicine laboratories and facilities. From left to right: CMIT Dean Dr. Cheyen Molon, DLSMHSI Vice Chancellor for Academics Dr. Juanito Cabanias, PNRI Deputy Director Dr. Vallerie Samson, Mr. Roel Loteriña and Ms. Christine Singayan of the PNRI Nuclear Training Center, DOST Balik Scientist Dr. Thomas Neil Pascual, BSNMT Program Director Dr. Susan Olavidez, and DLSMHSI Chancellor Dr. Antonio Ramos
PNRI partners with De La Salle for nuclear med degree program
Playing a crucial role in formally bringing nuclear medicine to the academe, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) continues to work with the De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute (DLSMHSI) in the development of its Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology program.
The institute’s College of Medical Imaging and Therapy (CMIT) started to offer the degree program in 2019 with a first batch of 38 students – a leading initiative towards building up university courses in nuclear medicine not only in the Philippines but in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The BS Nuclear Medicine Technology is a pioneering program in the Philippines. For us to offer it first is already a blessing, and although it is quite concerning for parents to enroll their children in an unknown field, our team alongside our college will ensure the quality of education despite being the first,” said CMIT Dean Dr. Cheyen Molon.
Still one of the country’s frontiers in the field of medical imaging, nuclear medicine involves radiopharmaceuticals emitting low doses of radiation, which are used by specialized equipment to produce images of vital organs. These images are necessary for early diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, including cancer and heart problems, among others.
S&T Fellow of DOST’s nuclear institute bags int’l best abstract award
Dr. Thomas Neil B. Pascual, S&T Fellow of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI), won the International Best Abstract Award 2022 for Philippines from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI). The award was given during the SNMMI 2022 Annual Meeting held in Vancouver, Canada.
Dr. Pascual’s abstract titled “Cost-effectiveness of F-18 FDG PET/CT in lung and colorectal cancer: a systematic review and narrative synthesis” detailed briefly but thoroughly the result of his systematic review on 18-FDG PET/CT imaging.
F-18 FDG PET/CT is a useful imaging modality in cancer staging and response to treatment.
Based on his review, Dr. Pascual concluded that PET/CT is more cost-effective than CT scan alone in the staging requirements for colorectal and non-small cell lung cancer. He thus recommended to decision-makers to make sound judgement in choosing this technology, and to policymakers to consider funding this technology, to improve the cancer management strategy in the health care system.
The SNMMI honors and celebrates the extraordinary work that is being done around the globe to further the effectiveness of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging.
Meanwhile, the DOST Science and Technology (S&T) Fellows Program aims to boost the research and development capacity of the DOST research and development institutes and councils by engaging the services of highly qualified researchers, scientists, and engineers to beef up the Department’s S&T workforce. Fellows like Dr. Pascual are tasked to conduct or participate in the conceptualization, policy and funding development, and monitoring and evaluation of various R&D programs and projects implemented by the DOST through its various R&D institutes.
An expert in nuclear medicine, Dr. Pascual is assigned at the DOST-PNRI, the country’s lead agency in nuclear S&T, which is currently establishing the Nuclear Medicine Research and Innovation Center. (Framelia V. Anonas, DOST-PNRI)
Officials from DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) and Department of Trade and Industry - Strategic Trade and Management Office (DTI-STMO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on technical expertise and support on managing the trade on strategic goods.
From left to right: STMO Assistant Director Atty. Janice S. Dimayacyac, STMO Director Atty. Luis Manuel M. Catibayan, PNRI Director Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, PNRI Deputy Director Dr. Vallerie Ann I. Samson, and Regulations and Standards Development Section Head Ms. Teresita G. de Jesus. [Photo from DTI-STMO]
PNRI signs accord with DTI’s strategic trade office to regulate strategic goods
Contributing its expertise towards national security and ensuring public safety, the DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute will serve as one of the support agencies under the National Security Council – Strategic Trade Management Committee (NSC-STMCom) by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
PNRI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DTI Strategic Trade and Management Office on June 13, 2022 to strengthen efforts on commodity classification, investigation, and enforcement activities involving strategic goods.
According to the DTI, strategic goods are items or products, including software and technologies, which are not allowed for export or are heavily regulated due to security reasons or according to international agreements. These include firearms and military-grade equipment, components and other similar materials, as well as items which are related to weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
PNRI's technical expertise, facilities, and laboratories on materials analysis will prove useful in managing the trade and movement of strategic goods in the Philippines, especially for dual-use equipment. These are items which are commonly used for commercial or peaceful purposes but may also be used for military applications and even for WMDs.
These items are enumerated in the National Strategic Goods List as part of the implementation of Republic Act No. 10697, or the Strategic Trade Management Act.
The law fulfills the country's international commitments and obligations in maintaining global peace and security, particularly United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 which aims to curtail the spread of WMDs.