Xu Kuangdi on Fusion, IT, and Biotech

PostedMarch 1, 2007

Xu Kuangdi on Fusion, IT, and Biotech

Now China is in the stage that industrialization is developing at a high speed with the background of the economic globalization and the rapid development of science and technology worldwide as well as the increasingly heavy pressure of the population, natural resources and environment. We are living and developing on the same earth. When confronting all the great challenges in the 21st century, scientists and engineers all over the world should make concerted efforts to do something and work hard to make the earth our beautiful homeland. 

I would like to put forward my opinions as follows on some important challenges that engineering will confront and the opportunities that engineers should grasp during this century:

1. Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion Technology will Provide Mankind with Infinite Energy

Challenges
Now the total population in the world has exceeded 6.5 billion, a figure which will continue to grow in the coming century. To satisfy the demand of a large population for the daily increasing energy is a huge challenge that human society is facing.

Today, we are heavily relying on limited fossil fuels that are not only non-renewable, but also discharge huge amount of pollutants that harm people's health and emit greenhouse gas CO2 that lead to global warming. In the 21st century, over five billion people in the developing countries will progress towards industrialization and the energy demand by them is huge when they pursue better lives. In meeting the demand in the near and mid term, we have choices of saving energy, exploring renewable energy, and developing new-generation advanced nuclear energy. However, because of the great technological, financial and resources constraints, all these energy technologies can not provide sufficient and affordable energy for all human beings in the 21st century.

Opportunities
The only way we know today to solve energy problem forever is controllable thermonuclear fusion technology. Relevant studies have been carried out for over 50 years, while is the only way for all the people in the world to use energy in a sustainable way. 

The research on this issue has lasted for over 50 years. While big progress can be achieved, it is now still far from being commercialized. Recently, the joint ITER project, which is jointly supported by (alphabetically ordered) China, EU, India, Japan, Korea, and USA, has started. A demonstration reactor is expected to be built in around 2030 and the first commercial reactor will be put in use in around 2050. By the end of this century, the technology will be commercialized in a large scale. It provides great hope for mankind to solve energy problem forever.

This technology will take deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen in water, as the raw material, and generate power through the huge energy released by the controlled thermonuclear reaction; and the amount of deuterium in seawater on earth can satisfy human beings' energy consumption demand for 100 million years. Therefore, the controlled thermonuclear fusion can replace all kinds of fossil energy we are using now, and become the ever-lasting energy resource for human beings.

2. IT Accelerates Industrialization

Challenges
Over the past 200 or so years, the developed countries have realized industrialization through greatly consuming natural resources and seriously polluting the environment. IT has provided an opportunity for developing countries to take the resource-conservation and environment-friendly industrialization road in the 21st century instead of the traditional industrialization road.

Opportunities
Now IT has been used in various fields of the economic and social development in the world and has exerted revolutionary influence on production and life. During the industrialization course for over five billion people in the 21st century, people can timely get, transmit, display and operate information by using the advanced information technology; greatly reduce the consumption of energy, water and other resources through the correct and timely supervision and control of production and the circulation processes; remarkably improve the efficiency and quality of production and management; greatly decrease the consumption of manpower, material resources and financial resources; and reduce the discharge of pollutants and the destruction of the environment. In the iron and steel industry with which I am very familiar, IT has been widely used, making the production techniques highly and precisely controlled in the whole process, greatly decreasing the input of energy, raw materials and manpower, remarkably shortening the production time and greatly improving the quality of products.

3. Advanced Biotechnology Safeguards the People's Health

Challenges
To satisfy the people's health demand and make unremitting efforts against malnutrition and diseases depend on human progress in life science and biotechnology at a large extent. Today, as compared with the people's understanding of the physical, chemical and other material movements and changes, human beings' recognition of life science is still in the early stage so far. Though we know little about it, we have more opportunities.

Opportunities
In providing food supply for guaranteeing subsistence: (1) The people will discover the principle of photosynthesis and apply it in agriculture to realize the industrialized production of crops, greatly improve the efficiency and output of the production of crops, and satisfy the people's daily increasing requirements for the quantity of food; and (2) the people will develop a great number of animal and plant food varieties with high nutritious contents to meet the people's increasing and diverse demands for the food quality.

In guaranteeing the people's health, we shall make clear the pathogenic mechanisms for cancer, diseases caused by viruses, diseases of old people, and reproduction and genetic diseases, find the effective methods of curing these diseases, and develop the effective prevention and cure medicines and methods that we have known and that we have not known yet.

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  • bill nicholson
    bill nicholson

    Posted 9 years and 1 month ago

    bill nicholson from kansas city,ks,USA comments on Xu Kuangdi on Fusion, IT, and Biotech
    its about time that we as a society embrace change, instead of eschew it.I.E. the bountyful benifit's of nuclear energyin a safe form ,to benifitt the whole of mankind, and not just the purposes of the few.
  • Ciaran Keogh
    Ciaran Keogh

    Posted 9 years and 1 month ago

    Ciaran Keogh from New Zealand comments on Xu Kuangdi on Fusion, IT, and Biotech
    This man is right on the spot and great to see such clear conceptual thinking coming from China - pity the Americans cut back funding to ITER this budget round. ITER must be made to work as the future of humankind depends on it. It is as vital to the future of humanity as the harnessing of fire. ITER should be the world's #1 project. The creation of an effective energy replacement for oil at a scale that will continue a modern lifestyle can only come from fusion energy. All of the other engineering challenges are irrelevant without the creation of a source of energy that is an order of magnitude greater capacity than the oil resources of the 20th century. Fusion energy will also lead to technologies once only dreamed of by alchemists - in the longer run as the technology matures it will enable the creation of not just of energy but also of scarce elements from plentiful ones
  • Lakshmi priya
    Lakshmi priya

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Lakshmi priya from Thanjavur comments on Xu Kuangdi on Fusion, IT, and Biotech
    This topic is useful and good.