"Europe has everything it takes to take the lead and bring about a paradigm shift in the nuclear industry. We have the skills and the infrastructure at our disposal." Yacine is enthusiastic when he talks about his passion for particle accelerators and the reinvention of nuclear energy.
In 1991, Yacine wrote the first thesis in Europe on transmutation, a technology that makes it possible to change the nature of a physical element using a particle accelerator. It's a bit like being an alchemist, except that it's no longer a matter of transforming lead into gold, but rather, for example, of emptying nuclear waste of its radio toxicity. In 1992 Prof. Carlo Rubbia, Nobel Prize in Physics, learned about this technology by attending a conference given by Yacine. A long professional relationship then began between the renowned scientist and the young researcher.
In 1994, he came to CERN, where he still works today, and Carlo Rubbia, who was the Director General sent him to the Paul Scherrer Institute to work on cyclotrons. "It was a fantastic opportunity to work with particle accelerators," explains Yacine. Having a number of Nobel Prize winners close at hand and having significant resources for research made CERN a place apart that is still relatively unknown to the general public.
In 1997, Carlo Rubbia retired from CERN and wanted to revolutionize the nuclear industry by producing electricity through the use of particle gas pedals. Yacine was part of the small team working on this project from the start. "At the time, it was daring," he admits. "We didn't have R&D yet. It was an idea that was too far ahead. We lacked the technical skills. Today, we have everything we need to realize this idea. We have feedback, we have trained people, we have facilities that allow us to do R&D, and we have learned a lot from high-power particle accelerators. It's now just a matter of funding to put into practice all the knowledge we've acquired over the past 20 years on the subject."
After the failure of the Rubbiatron at the end of the 1990s, Yacine continued his work at CERN, where he devoted himself to the center's priorities. He was notably involved in the construction of the LHC, the largest particle accelerator in the world with a ring 27 km in circumference, almost the size of the ring road around Paris. He was responsible for the design, testing, and working on the elements that intercept the beam.
Today, Yacine is a leading specialist in hybrid systems. Hybrid? That means, for example, coupling a particle accelerator to a reactor in order to allow the transmutation of physical elements. When Franklin Servan-Schreiber decided to establish Transmutex, it was only natural that Yacine would be part of the adventure. He contributes to the progress of the project within the framework of an agreement signed between CERN and Transmutex in order to give the team the benefit of all his expertise on hybrid reactors.
He is also member of the scientific committee of the MYRRHA project, which since 1985 has been seeking to develop a research project similar to Transmutex, except that all the elements are reinvented from scratch, whereas Transmutex seeks to assemble already existing and proven technologies.
To relax and leave the particle accelerators for a while, Yacine goes walking and diving, which allows him to get away from it all, especially in Lake Geneva and Lake Annecy.