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Ontario Tech University

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Overview

Ontario Tech was founded in 2002 to advance the discovery and application of knowledge that accelerates economic growth, regional development and social innovation. It is home to the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, FESNS, Canada’s only dedicated faculty of nuclear engineering and host to Canada’s only undergraduate nuclear engineering degree program. With the largest concentration of nuclear engineering academics of any Canadian university, including former engineers and scientists from NuScale Power, the UK’s Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, AECL and OPG; FESNS supports an internationally-recognised nuclear engineering and radiation science graduate program offering Masters and Doctoral degrees and a range of Graduate Diplomas, and delivers a bachelors degree in Health Physics and Radiation Science to provide nuclear safety and security professionals for industry and government. A leader in sustainable energy systems, Ontario Tech has a world-class demo facility for thermochemical water splitting and nuclear hydrogen production in its Clean Energy Research Lab, CERL, as well as the world-leading ACE facility for climatic and seismic testing.

Community-focused with global reach, Ontario Tech delivers research, consultancy, education and training that reflects the needs of and directly benefits Durham Region and Northumberland County, the Province of Ontario, and the wider Canadian economy. Located in the backyard of Ontario Power Generation, 20 minutes from Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, Ontario Tech is ideally positioned to support OPG’s expected first-of-a-kind SMR deployment in the late 2020’s along with the workforce needs that will accompany it. Complementing strengths at other Canadian universities, and born into a digital world, Ontario Tech is a leader in nuclear modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, virtual reality and cybersecurity. This is supported by extensive experimental facilities for nuclear fuels and materials analysis, thermal hydraulics and decommissioning research, as well as mixed-field radiation facilities for detector development and low-dose studies. Cognizant of the impacts that technological developments have on society and the planet, Ontario Tech believes in the ethical application of technology and innovation, namely to develop “tech with a conscience.”

As the release of the SMR action plan highlights, small modular reactors are a critical piece in Canada’s path to carbon-zero. Ontario Tech University fully endorses the action plan and will work with Team Canada to turn the plan into reality. As a key provider of the SMR workforce, ranked third in North America in terms of nuclear engineering graduates, and as a supplier of independent research and consultancy, Ontario Tech will actively support all pillars in the SMR roadmap. Leveraging grant funding opportunities and international collaborations not open to industry partners, and building on its core strengths and expertise, Ontario Tech pledges an eight-point plan of linked actions to support the SMR lifecycle from design to decommissioning:

  1. Establish a Centre for Small Modular Reactors at Ontario Tech University.
  2. Provide secure High-Performance Computing (HPC) capability to support SMR design and safety analysis in Canada.
  3. Establish a full-scale, modular integral test facility for testing of light-water SMR safety systems.
  4. Demonstrate efficient schemes for hydrogen co-generation using SMR-grade heat.
  5. Promote and develop a common framework-based approach to coupled multiscale multiphysics modeling and simulation across the entire SMR lifecycle.
  6. Introduce SMRs into the undergraduate nuclear engineering program at Ontario Tech.
  7. Evolve Ontario Tech’s model for remote delivery of education and training to support rapid development of the SMR workforce.
  8. Expand awareness of the role SMRs could play in climate change and sustainability through non-engineering degree education.

In its efforts to support SMR deployment in Canada, the university is proud to acknowledge the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation which is covered under the Williams Treaties. We are situated on the Traditional Territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation which includes Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi.

ACTIONS

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Establish a Centre for Small Modular Reactors at Ontario Tech University
STATUS: COMPLETE
OTU01

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 50

ACTION

Leveraging the range of facilities, knowledge and experience within FESNS and the wider Ontario Tech faculty community, establish a university Centre for Small Modular Reactors to conduct targeted research and consultancy in a coordinated manner on behalf of vendors and suppliers and to provide an independent expert voice across the entire SMR lifecycle.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Operating as an academic-based supplier of nuclear science and engineering consultancy, research and development, and employing professional project management processes under a recognised quality system (ISO 9001 and CSA N299.2 certification will be sought), the centre will be able to bid for larger funding opportunities. As a focal point for R&D, the centre is expected to attract SMR enterprise stakeholders for validation and verification (V&V) activities and potentially the co-location of V&V facilities on campus for mutual benefit and increased return-on-investment. Due to the variety of SMR designs in vendor design review, and the lack of non-CANDU experts in Canada; harnessing its uniquely-qualified personnel, the centre will bridge the gap in subject matter expertise to help vendors and suppliers accelerate deployment plans in a cost-effective manner through the successful delivery of targeted work packages.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Provide secure High-Performance Computing (HPC) capability to support SMR design and safety analysis in Canada
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
OTU02

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48, 50

ACTION

Secure High-Performance Computing (HPC) capability will be provided at Ontario Tech to support SMR design, safety analysis, training and education in Canada in compliance with export-control requirements and satisfying vendor-supplier non-disclosure needs.

EXPECTED RESULTS

As High-Performance Computing (HPC) is an essential tool for the kinds of nuclear energy-related modeling and simulation necessary to develop and maintain modern nuclear safety cases, it is critical to the timely deployment of SMRs in Canada. Operated by the Centre for Small Modular Reactors at Ontario Tech, this in-Canada secure nuclear HPC capability will allow faculty and researchers to work with SMR vendors and suppliers to accelerate their deliverables whilst developing the SMR workforce by training the next generation of engineers and scientists on HPC technology.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Establish a full-scale, modular integral test facility for testing of light-water SMR safety systems
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
OTU03

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48, 50

ACTION

Continue development of the two-storey light-water-based modular thermal-hydraulic loop at Ontario Tech to facilitate testing of safety systems and validation and verification (V&V) of computer modeling and simulation.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Emulating U.S. NRC recognized facilities at American universities, the nominal 9-metre-tall light-water thermal-hydraulic loop which can be adjusted to match full-scale vertical heights of several light-water SMR designs, will provide an independent, low-user-cost platform for SMR vendors and suppliers to undertake in-Canada V&V activities and to test safety system components. With access arranged through Ontario Tech’s Centre for Small Modular Reactors, this first-of-a-kind-in-Canada facility will facilitate a faster route-to-market for SMR vendors and suppliers, will provide standard benchmarks for cross-comparison of computational safety analysis codes, and will aid development of the SMR workforce by training the next generation of engineers and scientists on the V&V process.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Demonstrate efficient schemes for hydrogen co-generation using SMR-grade heat
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
OTU04

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 50

ACTION

Exploiting the capability within Ontario Tech’s world-class hydrogen production demo facility, schemes to harness SMR-grade heat will be developed and demonstrated.

EXPECTED RESULTS

A benefit of high-temperature gas reactor and molten salt reactor technologies is potential provision of process heat at temperatures in excess of those achievable in water-based reactor systems. Whilst high-temperature thermochemical water splitting is understood, heat take off schemes for some SMR designs require additional development. Ontario Tech stands ready to support such developments, including the use of the world-class hydrogen production demo facility for experiments.

DEMONSTRATION AND DEPLOYMENT
Promote and develop a common framework-based approach to coupled multiscale multiphysics modeling and simulation across the entire SMR lifecycle
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
OTU05

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48, 50

ACTION

Exploiting in-house and international efforts in multiscale multiphysics and computational methods development, Ontario Tech’s Centre for Small Modular Reactors will promote use of and contribute common framework-based computational tools for coupled modeling and simulation across the entire SMR lifecycle.

EXPECTED RESULTS

As the nuclear industry has evolved, utilities, suppliers and academics have used a wide range of disparate computational tools to model various aspects of the nuclear reactor lifecycle. Often developed in isolation, where computing resources were scarce, these codes are difficult to maintain long-term and yield increased uncertainty in safety-relevant predictions due to bespoke sharing of results between codes. In contrast, computational modeling and simulation frameworks have lower through-life costs due to larger user bases, and often have greater validation and verification and reduced uncertainties due to full-coupling between codes. By showing leadership in this domain, and as several code development efforts are underway at the university, Ontario Tech expects to see greater take up and eventual convergence on a Team Canada approach to modeling and simulation. By teaching students how to use such tools and approaches throughout the delivery of their program of study, graduate engineers and scientists will be well versed in their use, and the use of related tools such as digital twins, if they join the SMR workforce. Moreover, a common approach to modeling and simulation between SMR vendors and suppliers will reduce regulatory barriers and accelerate eventual deployment of SMRs.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Introduce SMRs into the undergraduate nuclear engineering program at Ontario Tech
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
OTU06

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48

ACTION

The Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science at Ontario Tech University will, where applicable, incorporate SMR-related content into the core courses and capstone project components of its undergraduate nuclear engineering program.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Introducing key aspects of SMR design, manufacture, in-service operation and decommissioning into the core courses of Ontario Tech’s B.Eng. nuclear engineering program in parallel with existing CANDU-focused content, will ensure that FESNS graduates are the most adaptable to the needs of Canada’s nuclear industry as it transitions towards its SMR future. By undertaking an SMR-focused Capstone project, FESNS graduates will become well-equipped with the design skills and regulatory understanding necessary to support the near-term deployment of SMRs in Canada.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Evolve Ontario Tech’s model for remote delivery of education and training to support rapid development of the SMR workforce
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
OTU07

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48, 49

ACTION

Ontario Tech University will endeavour to revamp its nuclear engineering graduate courses and develop SMR-focused graduate education and professional development programs so they can be taken remotely in Canada and worldwide on a flexible basis.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Already a leading provider of nuclear training and education for Team Canada, by evolving its model of remote delivery, and working with national and international partners like UNENE and the IAEA, Ontario Tech will have greater reach in terms of rapidly preparing the SMR workforce in a post-COVID world.

CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
Expand awareness of the role SMRs could play in climate change and sustainability through non-engineering degree education
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
OTU08

Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation(s): 48, 49

ACTION

Establish a new Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Sustainability that includes the role of Small Modular Reactors and targets a 50% minimum female enrollment.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Climate and sustainability are key concerns for younger generations. Very engaged in the debate, once the positive benefits of nuclear energy are properly explained, this section of society is known to be a proponent of SMRs. By offering a new arts and science degree in sustainability via inter-faculty collaboration (Ontario Tech’s Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science and Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities), it is expected that the program will attract a different cohort of students that would not previously have been educated on SMRs and nuclear energy, and will likely garner greater female interest. By increasing the opportunities for SMR-related higher education outside of the engineering sphere, we expect the public narrative to shift further in favour of SMRs.