South Africa has only one national facility with a radiobiology laboratory, and it’s not every day that the opportunity arises to visit it.
For the BSc honours students from the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Centre for Applied Radiation Science and Technology (CARST), a recent research trip to this facility in Cape Town was a major highlight.
The students from the campus in Mahikeng spent almost two weeks at the iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences (LABS), working on their radiobiology research practical.
During their two-week trip, they also toured the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and paid a half-day visit to High Energy Processing (HEPRO) Cape.
HEPRO Cape is the only commercial-scale irradiator in the Western Cape and irradiates a wide range of products for suppliers of spices, export fruit, fresh produce, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, medical devices, laboratory consumables and imported honey. It also performs phytosanitary quarantine control.
The students spent two days at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, the only nuclear power station in Africa. They saw for themselves how a nuclear power station works and learnt more about reactor fuel, radiation protection, conventional plant chemistry, environmental survey laboratories and environmental impact assessment.
The Director of CARST, Prof Victor Tshivhase, emphasised the importance of exposing students to the practical applications of the theory provided by the university.
“We are very proud to point out that several alumni who have passed through our centre are now in the field, making headway in the radiation industry,” says Prof Tshivhase. “Our relations with industry stakeholders allow students to make informed career decisions.”
He adds that CARST is especially proud to have played a part in ensuring that women are well represented in the nuclear industry.
Here are some of the NWU students who recently did their practicals at the iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences in Cape Town.