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Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

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Overview

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is Canada's premier nuclear science and technology organization. CNL is a world leader in developing peaceful and innovative applications from nuclear technology through its expertise in physics, metallurgy, chemistry, biology and engineering.  CNL is committed to ensuring that Canadians and the world receive energy, health, and environmental benefits from nuclear science and technology with confidence that nuclear safety and security are assured.

Our 3,200 staff and over 500 leading scientists, engineers, and technicians are actively involved with industry-driven research and development in clean energy, radiopharmaceuticals, and environmental protection. At CNL, we provide solutions to some of Canada's largest engineering, scientific, and technical challenges. Our ability to meet these challenges are strengthened by the successful site revitalization taking place at our Chalk River facilities, Canada's largest Science and Technology complex and the birth place of the CANDU reactor technology.

CNL manages and operates Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL’s) sites across Canada. These include operations in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Our mandate includes: the remediation of legacy waste liabilities; the revitalization of the Chalk River Laboratories; and delivering nuclear science and technology to the benefit of Canada.

Part of CNL's ongoing commitment to clean energy is strong support for a vibrant, new SMR industry in Canada.  CNL's history providing R&D to support reactor technology development positions CNL to take a leading role in providing support for all three anticipated streams of SMR deployment in Canada.  CNL is developing the expertise and facilities to provide technical support for the on-grid and micro-reactor demonstration and deployment opportunities being pursued by the Canadian Utilities (Ontario Power Generation, Bruce Power, New Brunswick Power and Sask Power) in partnership with SMR Vendors.  CNL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with New Brunswick Power in support of the New Brunswick SMR Research Cluster and stream two on-grid advanced reactor development. 

CNL is supporting all aspects of SMR development and deployment including: prototype fuel development and fuel studies, reactor materials and structural materials integrity testing, techno-economic studies, feasibility studies, nuclear co-generation assessments, sensor network development and cyber security, fission product release studies and reactor life cycle assessments.  CNL launched the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), a co-funded applied research program with SMR vendors, in 2019 with the intent of helping vendors address a variety of technical questions.   Through AECL's Federal Nuclear Science and Technology (FNST) Work Plan, CNL executes R&D projects enabling science-based SMR regulation and policy development and decision making.  Through the FNST Work Plan, CNL collaborates with a broad group of universities and research institutes in Canada and internationally to leverage expertise and investments towards resolving common SMR issues.

CNL also plays a role in advancing the demonstration and deployment of SMRs in Canada by identifying and addressing challenges to deployment.  Over the last five years, CNL has hosted several SMR Roundtables at domestic and international events to facilitate meaningful conversations between SMR vendors, utilities, industry, communities, supply chain, government departments, financial institutions and other key players with the goal of identifying challenges to deployment. 

The launch of CNL's Invitation for Demonstration in 2018 highlights CNL's commitment to proving the viability of clean, SMR technology. The four stage Invitation Process invites SMR vendors to propose demonstration projects for siting at an AECL owned, CNL managed site. Stage 1 is a pre-qualification step, ensuring a proponent is serious about a demonstration project. Stage 2 is the due diligence phase of assessment, reviewing a proponents project plans, financials and understanding of Canadian nuclear regulation.   In Stage 3, the proponent, AECL and CNL enter into Negotiation of Land Arrangement and Other Contracts that will guide the land use.  Stage 4 is the Execution of the Project which includes construction of the SMR, fuelling the core, and operation.  Stage 4 can only proceed with the appropriate Licenses granted by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).  Four SMR vendors have provided submissions to CNL's Invitation for Demonstration Process to date - U-Battery, Starcore, Terrestrial Energy Inc., and Global First Power.  Global First Power, owned by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), is the first SMR project in Canada to submit a license application to the CNSC.  The CNL SMR Invitation process is not a competition for a single preferred technology. The Invitation remains open, with two submission intakes annually, and CNL continues to work with the SMR industry to promote the demonstration and deployment of multiple types of SMRs in Canada.   

Successful deployment of SMRs in Canada to meet our commitments to GHG emission reductions by 2050 will require deployment of SMR technologies from all three streams proposed for Canada.  Additionally, these SMRs will need to be part of a hybrid energy system to fully take advantage of all of the clean energy technology available.  The ability to couple these hybrid energy systems with co-generation activities such as hydrogen production will be a critical outcome.  To support the integration of nuclear, renewables and applications such as hydrogen production, CNL is considering a Clean Energy Development, Innovation and Research (CEDIR) Park at the Chalk River Laboratories, centred on a micro-reactor demonstration project.

CNL is an integral part of the Canadian SMR industry, actively participating in the COG SMR Technology Forum, CEO SMR Working Group, SMR Secretariat, as well as the US NEI Advanced Reactor Working Group.

CNL is fully committed to the Statement of Principles of the SMR Action Plan.

ACTIONS

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Site Preparation For SMR Demonstration
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 26

ACTION

In response to recommendation 26 "AECL and CNL should prepare sites at federally owned laboratories for SMR demonstration projects", CNL has identified a total of 22 potential sites for building a demonstration project at a CNL managed site (at both Chalk River Laboratories and Whiteshell Laboratories) Characterization of four of these sites at the Chalk River Laboratories has been completed and captured in a set of environmental baseline characterization reports.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Potential sites are pre-identified in anticipation of a demonstration project
  • Environmental baseline characterization reports are available to support formal Environmental Assessments
DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 27

ACTION

In response to recommendation 27 "AECL should continue to consider federal priorities around SMRs when assessing projects under the Federal Nuclear Science and Technology Work Plan for the federal role on SMR development and future deployment, informed by the outcomes of the SMR Roadmap.", CNL contributes to the development of AECL's Federal Nuclear Science and Technology (FNST) Work Plan. Consistently, projects in the FNST Work Plan focus on all aspects of SMR development and deployment including: techno-economic studies, feasibility studies, nuclear co-generation, fuel studies, reactor materials and structural materials integrity, cyber security, sensor network development, and life cycle.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Through the FNST Work Plan, the regulator and policy makers have access to relevant research for science-based decision making
  • As Canada's National Nuclear Laboratory, CNL extends its nuclear expertise to relevant SMR technologies
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
Invitation for SMR Demonstrations
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 28

ACTION

In response to recommendation 28, "CNL should continue its Invitation for Demonstration related to SMR demonstration projects", CNL launched its four step Invitation for Demonstration in 2018, with two annual intakes for submissions of demonstration project ideas. At this time, six Proponents have submitted responses to the Invitation. Three Proponents have successfully completed Stage 1. One Proponent has progressed to Stage 3 and is the first SMR project in Canada to submit a license application to the CNSC. CNL intends to continue the Invitation as long as there is interest.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Vendors have a viable path forward to developing and demonstrating their technology
  • An SMR demonstration project is successfully launched in Canada at CNL
  • SMR technology, construction and licensing can be demonstrated
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETS
International lab-to-lab-collaboration
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 29

ACTION

In response to recommendation 29, "AECL and CNL should advance international collaboration on SMR research and development with appropriate international partners guided by but not limited to the strategic framework and findings of the SMR Roadmap.

  • Collaboration should prioritize opportunities to anchor intellectual Property in Canada and undertake enabling work broadly",
  • CNL collaborates broadly with organizations on SMR research and development

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Several collaborative research projects through IAEA, NEA and GIF allow for sharing of R&D studies and results to leverage Canada's investment in SMR research.       
  • CNL also participates in SMR R&D with research organizations in support of the Canada-US and Canada-UK Action Plans
  • In addressing the security of fuel supply, CNL is engaged with the NNL on assessing fuel supply options for the SMR industry 

RESPONSES TO OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS

In addition to the Recommendations specifically assigned to CNL in Section A-4 of the SMR Roadmap, CNL is also contributing to the following:

POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND REGULATION
Fuel Supply Security
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 08

ACTION

CNL fully supports the federal government actions on addressing SMR fuel supply security. CNL organized a fuel supply workshop in the UK in 2020 that included government, academia, research laboratories and industry participants from the UK and Canada to explore this question.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • Canada develops a partnership with the UK to address fuel supply for the emerging SMR market
  • Future joint workshops with the UK are envisioned as part of the fuel supply strategy
DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Initiatives to reduce SMR capital costs
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 38

ACTION

CNL's applied research program includes studies on additive manufacturing and the economics of SMRs, deployment and co-generation. CNL is participating in an IAEA Coordinated Research Project entitled "Economic Appraisal of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) Projects: Methodologies and Applications", with specific planned focus on economic assessment of factory fabrication requirements and benefits.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • an economic appraisal framework for SMR development and deployment will be developed by all participants in the IAEA Coordinated Research Project
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Promoting diversity in the future SMR workforce
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL07

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 39

ACTION

CNL supports diversity in the workplace and is proud to be a signatory to Equal by 30.   

We continue discussions on opportunities to engage indigenous communities into the supply chain, workforce and broader CNL community.

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • CNL continues to promote diversity and achieves a richly diverse workplace by 2030
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Indigenous Engagement
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL08

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 43

ACTION

CNL recognizes and seeks opportunities to strengthen the important connections with the indigenous communities which surround our sites and have been working towards establishing long term relationship agreements. CNL meets on a regular basis with members of the indigenous communities for briefings and sharing of knowledge on our SMR program as well as the broader portfolio of work underway within our organization.

CNL co-organized and hosted a series of economic development workshops with local economic development agencies and the Algonquin of Pikwakanagan (nearest indigenous community to the Chalk River campus).

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • CNL and the surrounding communities have enhanced relationships and open communication
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Training programs and education curriculum
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
CNL09

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48

ACTION

CNL maintains a comprehensive network of domestic and international university collaborations and supports UNENE.  Several collaborative research projects promote development of capabilities to support deployment of SMRs in Canada.  CNL's student program provides opportunities for students to get hands-on experience at Canada's national nuclear laboratory.  CNL is part of the advisory committee for the NSERC Small Modular Advanced Reactor Training (SMART) program.

CNL also maintains collaborative relationships through the Canada-US (US DOE Laboratories) and Canada-UK Action Plans (UK National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL)).

EXPECTED RESULTS

  • CNL has access to the talent of the next generation of nuclear researchers, both domestically and internationally
  • Students have opportunities for hands-on research through CNL's student programs